Experts also predict that one long-term consequence of the pandemic will be a shift towards open-air markets and businesses. Uzbekistan’s biggest outdoor market, Abu Saxiy, could, therefore, be a key part of post-pandemic economic growth in the Central Asian country.
Founded in 2006 by businessman Timur Tillyaev with 680 abandoned shipping containers, Abu Saxiy has since grown into one of Central Asia’s biggest markets, spanning 60 acres and hosting 3,000 stalls. Timur sold the market in 2017, but he is still proud of its success and popularity. He said:
“Re-purposed shipping containers are very cost-efficient and therefore popular with traders. There is no doubt they have contributed to enormous growth in the Central Asian retail economy.”
Markets like Abu Saxiy are popular across Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, a container park has grown into the nation’s single largest employer.
Small businesses and family-owned businesses were hit the hardest during the pandemic. When a small business shuts down, it impacts an entire family’s income. Markets like the one founded by Timur Tillyaev allow small-business owners to get back on their feet because of the low start-up costs. One of the biggest overhead costs for opening any kind of shop is leasing the commercial space and in most big cities a 12-month lease is a minimum requirement. The container markets introduced by businessmen like Timur Tillyaev enable vendors to get around this problem. Being cheap and easily moveable, they offer market operators and stallholders flexibility. here is also a global over-supply of shipping containers at the moment, which makes repurposing them extremely economical.
Consumers also benefit. Lowering the opportunity costs allows more vendors to take the risk of opening a stall. This makes container markets dynamic and more responsive to local tastes. They possess an exciting, unpredictable buzz, unlike a standard shopping mall. This helps explain their growing popularity. One example of a container market is London’s Boxpark in Shoreditch. Well-loved by locals, visitors describe it as having, “nice energy and great food options with a relaxed atmosphere and good location.”
Another great advantage of container markets is their sustainability. Building a market out of shipping containers avoids the transport and consumption of heavy construction materials such as concrete and steel – both big contributors to climate change.
Container parks like Abu Saxiy are not just a clever way to help small business recover from the COVID pandemic, but also a look into how we can expect businesses to operate in the future.
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