Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the opening time of Yiwu International Trade Market was about one week later than before. Now nearly two months have passed, and the major trading markets in Yiwu have gradually returned to normal. As the sea of small commodities, is it able to withstand the impact of the epidemic? We need to find the answer.
Outside the gate of District 1, the number of people is much smaller than before. Glass doors make the building look like a modern palace. As the earliest modern business market in Yiwu, District 1 has always been the place with the largest customer flow in all regions of the International Trade Market. However, only two gates are open now. The one on the left is a special channel for foreign businessmen, and the one in the middle is the entryway for domestic businessmen and the market operators. Each door is anxiously waiting for its guests. To enter the market, you need to show your ID card and the Health QR Code.
Surprisingly, few parking spaces are available outside the market. Lorries carrying the goods out of the parking lot, people in the market are still quite busy. Cars in the parking lot move slowly like beetles which have different colors.
The first floor of District 1 mainly deals in toys, the second floor mainly sells ornaments, and other floors sell different kinds of goods. In the past years, the customer flow in the toy area was very large, but at the same time this year, even in the main street of the market, the customer flow is relatively sparse. The market is like a silent forest on a snowy day.
After the merchants left, I asked the shopkeeper about the latest business situation. Mr. Liu, the owner of the store, said: "This year's foreign trade business is really poor. We seem to be on an island where people and goods can't flow. We used to focus on foreign trade, but now we have to rely on domestic customers. " Before he finished speaking, several customers came in, so he began to explain the product information in detail. After a while, several purchasers went away with laughter. "There are still people who window shop every day, but only few of them would place orders." Said Mr. Liu with a wry smile on his face.
In the past, foreign merchants could purchase all kinds of goods in District 1 and many of them come from the Middle East and Africa. Chinese, English, Arabic and even Japanese and Korean could be heard frequently here. It was like a language school with students from all over the world. Now foreign merchants can be rarely seen here and most of the merchants are domestic buyers. Due to the rapid spread of the epidemic abroad, many countries had issued a no-fly order. It’s difficult for merchants in the Middle East, who were seriously affected by the epidemic, to purchase goods in Yiwu.
In the jewelry area on the second floor, some businessmen were busy packing products. Piles of ornaments were stacked neatly on the ground. In the International Trade Market, almost all the businessmen and customers wear masks. The market used to be very noisy, with bargaining, shouting and even crying. Now the market is surprisingly quiet. Even when it’s necessary to have a discussion, people would keep their voices down, as if they are unwilling to break the silence.
When I was wandering in the street, an old lady suddenly stopped me, looking at my face.
"Hey! Buy toys? "
"Sorry, I don't need toys."
"There are many kinds of toys in my shop. Have a look."
She stared at me with her piercing eyes, and I felt a rush of oppression in my heart.
When she knew who I was, she sat alone in the aisle seat, looking down at the ground. I followed her and asked tentatively, "Do you look for buyers in the market every day?" She stared at me warily first, then suddenly smiled and said, "I think it's OK to talk with you. Will my words be reported?" Obviously, her eyes were full of shyness. According to her own introduction, she comes from Jiangxi Province and her job is to bring in customers for other stores. If a client places an order, her salary will increase accordingly. Every day, she needs to walk for several hours in the commercial city to actively promote products to the purchasers. In her own words, she is a perpetual motion machine. As long as the purchasers are not bored, she will take them to the stores. Going back and forth more than ten times a day is quite common for her. However, what scares her most is that no customer wants to place an order or even goes to her shop.
"Is your business seriously affected by such a severe epidemic abroad?"
"Of course, orders in foreign countries have decreased significantly. Only a few people place orders through WeChat. "
"Have you ever thought of changing your career?"
"I'm old, I've been in this business for a long time, and I don't know how to do other jobs."
After leaving the International Trade Market, I saw a smart plane flying in the sky, shuttling back and forth between tall buildings. It was possible that the shopkeeper was selling new products. Behind the plane was the CBD center of Yiwu in which buildings stood as the giants guarding the city. There were still cars coming and going along the asphalt road. Despite the huge impact of the epidemic, the "Supermarket of the World" is still thrusting itself forward with the willpower and persistence of a group of people. I believe that the future of this city will be like that plane, breaking through the haze and ushering in a rebirth.
Until now, the words of the old lady still rang in my memory: "In order to live, I have to face the plights and keep going."