Locals, tourists flock Sunday market for bargain buys ahead of winter
Srinagar: The Sunday flea market, which comes up every week along the road from posh Residency Road to Batamaloo bus stand on the other side of Jhelum here, is drawing people in droves for warm winter clothing offered by its sellers at throw away prices.
Local youth, who turn entrepreneurs every Sunday, bring all kinds of clothes, bedding, curtains which they display on carts by the roadside. Some of these goods tend to be fresh while most, discarded for various reasons.
“I have been doing this work since 1990. The situation was bad and there was unemployment and very few job opportunities. So we, educated unemployed youth, started this Sunday market.
“The market has been here since 1970 … we restarted it in 1990. It is only for one day in a week and it does not affect traffic,” Abdul Wahid, a seller at the market, said.
The market is not part of the organised sector and has an estimated turnover of over Rs 200 crore and is believed to provide livelihood to more than 5,000 youth.
“This place is crowded because people can get things for a very low price. We sell things considering the needs of the people. During winter, we sell winter clothes, while in summer, we sell summer clothes. As winter is approaching, we have had snowfall in mountains and rains in plains recently, warm clothes are in demand and the crowd has also increased. We sell fresh clothes as well as used stuff here,” Wahid said.
The market, which is not only popular with locals alone, but is a hit with visitors too, must be protected, he said.
“This market is famous outside Kashmir also. Tourists throng it to buy warm clothes and blankets. Our request to the government is to protect this market and provide facilities to us,” he added.
Rishab Arora, a Jammu resident, who had come for a holiday to Kashmir and ended up spending the Sunday at the flea market.
“We had come to visit. We were told about this market and the goods that are sold here. We have purchased some stuff. It was a good experience for this is a unique market in Jammu and Kashmir. We do not have a flea market of this scale in Jammu,” Arora said.
Chingding Lisha and Sonam Dolma have come all the way from Ladakh to prepare themselves for the harsh winter ahead in the cold desert where minimum temperature at peak winter can drop 25 degrees below the freezing point.
“We have come from Ladakh for the first time. We get good clothes here which we can use in extreme cold in Ladakh. It is also cheap. This is a very good market,” Lisha said. “We shopped a lot for family and kids,” Dolma said.
Amir Ahmad Tantray, a resident of Baramulla district in north Kashmir, has come hunting for branded clothes at cheap prices.
“I come from Pattan (Baramulla district). I heard that they sell imported goods here and things are cheap,” he said.