Written by Mega Aisyah Nirmala
When I was child, other continent like Europe, America, Africa and others are somewhere so-far-away that I probably couldn’t reach in the whole of my life. But now, I see things differently, every impossible thing in the first place seems to be more possible. Hence, touching down impossible land in my first thought seems becoming more possible as well. You might be feeling the same as you grow older, don’t you?
I believe that every struggle will get rewarded and every prayer would be heard. This year, I got a chance to step on my feet in some of the lands in Europe. I couldn’t believe this until I realized that this is real.
I also believe that what I see, what I feel, and what I do during my travel in this other part of the world would be influencing my perspective to see the whole world.
Open Market in Rotterdam
Anyway, there is a bunch of story of life that I wanted to share. But for the very beginning, let me share a story about traditional market. Why market?
I learned how important of the existence of market in Indonesia is. A volunteer organization which concern toward the development of market taught me how market becomes a “place” for thousands of Indonesian merchants relied on their lives. In short, the market and its merchants are the one we fight for. That’s why, market is special.
Not very far from where I live, in Rotterdam, there is an open market called Binnenrotte market. This is the biggest open market in Rotterdam. It also means that there are several other small open markets in this city. Most of the open markets here open once to twice a week. Binnenrotte market opens twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday. The customers of this market come from many different areas in Rotterdam. The activity in this market starts at 8 am until 5 pm. We can find almost everything in here. There are many merchants spread out in around 400 stalls. The stalls are organized based on the commodity they sell. In food area, all the stalls are selling only foods such as bread, vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat, and so on. The food stalls itself are numerous. Hence, the stalls are then organized based the food category. The stalls for cheese (one of famous products from Holland) for instance, they are located next each other. And so does in the flower area, all the stalls are selling flowers, in the clothes areas, all the stalls are selling clothes, and so on.
The merchants in this market make a very nice display toward their commodity they sell. However, organized display will attract more customers and make them easier to find what they need. Also, they put the price tag very clear on the commodity they sell which enables customer to consider what and how many they need to buy.
The merchants always greet and serve the customers with smile. Not few of the merchants and the customers make a short conversation about the commodity when the transaction happens.
I often go to this market to buy stocks for my daily needs, such as vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, and also shampoo, soap, and so on. You know, coming to this market is not only for fulfilling your daily needs, but more than that, you are part of the life of people in Rotterdam. That’s sweet, isn’t it?
From the pictures shown, we can see how they display their goods. Also probably we can see how they serve their customers. It’s good to apply what is good in here into our market in Indonesia.
Flea Market in Brussels
Another day, I walked down one of the streets in Brussels, Belgium. It was a very bright day of Saturday. I found an open market near the city hall of Brussels. It was a flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle. It sells antique, old stuffs, and many types of second hand stuffs. We could find many things here. We could find clothes, bags, shoes, kitchen utensils, electronic devices, also old books in some of the stalls. This flea market opens every day since the morning till afternoon. I was there to look around for almost one hour before continued walking.
I continued walking to do sightseeing in the city of Brussels. During my city tour, I found two other flea markets in a residence area. So, I was visiting three flea markets within the whole day. And I am quite sure that there are many other flea markets held in the other areas. Most of these flea markets open on the weekend and they mostly sell daily second hand stuffs.
A friend of mine told me that most of the areas must be having their own day to open a flea market. This is how it works; the people living in a certain area are discussing and making an agreement to hold an open market in their own area. For example, they agree to open a market on Saturday. Then, on Saturday started in morning, the residents living there are opening their own stalls in front of their houses. They sell their old stuffs which no longer used. Usually, their customers are their own neighbours. Opening a market like this is becoming a culture for some parts of people in many areas in Belgium, or at least, in Brussels. But of course, this flea market is also welcomed for other buyers and sellers from other area.
In my opinion, this flea market cultures brings many benefits. First, we don’t waste too much stuffs. Your neighbour or other people might really need the stuffs you are not longer use it. You can get some income by selling those stuffs and the buyers get benefit by having a cheap price for the stuffs they need. Last, of course, the market will give you an opportunity to meet and greet your neighbour, to have and to keep good interaction and relationship with your neighbour.
I think it would be a good idea to apply this flea market system in Indonesia. We can start it from the smallest scope of area, which is neighbourhood (Rukun Tetangga). Of course, we need to keep it in our mind that buying second hand stuffs is not something embarrassing. Otherwise, it is something that will bring you many benefits. So, why don’t we try?