Wet market big hit in Songjiang University Town
A newly renovated wet market near Songjiang University Town is attracting droves of nearby college students to shop there and improve their culinary skills under the guidance of professional chefs.
The Longyuan Market, whose renovation was completed in March, is decorated in a Chinoiserie style with a clean and grand façade. Its former vendors' cubicles have been transformed into refreshing open-air stalls. While a needlework and a home appliances repair stores have been preserved, there are many new installations that have been well received by the public.
"Before the renovation, conditions here were troublesome; residents were reluctant to shop and my business went through a difficult time. After renovation, it made a huge difference," said a pork vendor.
Yang Chengmei, who has been a vendor for years, agrees that business is much better these days. "In the past, on an average day I sold vegetables worth 700-800 yuan (US$110), whereas now I sell 2,000-3,000 yuan worth. The fast turnover means I can have a constant supply of fresh produce."
The needlework store used to be located under a stair case and most customers were acquaintances of the owner. Now it occupies a spacious room on the ground floor decorated with logs and canvas. It has extended services to include dry-cleaning, an additional source of revenue.
Gourmet food and more
The second floor of Longyuan Market features catering services and training, mainly for college students, as well as food processing services. Customers who buy food on the ground floor can have it processed by chefs who teach them how to cook. Another attraction on the second floor: live music performances, which attract not just average shoppers but also young dating couples who enjoy the casual atmosphere.
Song Jieyi, a local college student, shared her enthusiasm about learning how to cook on the second floor. "The sound of the knife chopping food is like the trampling of hooves," she said. "The chef taught me how to use a wok and ladle perfectly. Under his supervision I cooked something that turned out really well. My classmates loved the meal – hot and sour shredded potatoes, fried beef with king oyster mushrooms, fried eggs with tomatoes and stir-fried broccoli."
Ren Haifeng, a college graduate from Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Financing, opened a successful Korean food restaurant in the market. "Research I've done shows a scarcity of cheap Korean food restaurants around Songjiang University Town," said Ren. "Many college students would like to open a restaurant, but few really have made it." Ren attributes his success to several factors – good location of the market (near Songjiang University Town); renovated facilities; and determination.
Total market renovation costs were about five million yuan plus additional operational fees, according to a market official. Rent and subsidies income is about one million yuan. To control food quality and maintain low costs, the market has developed its own food supply chain. The official said since renovation, the market as a whole has done better than expectations. He said there is no reason to believe its prosperity won't continue.