Informal sector vendors lose customers

KATHMANDU: Street vendors’ business is going down — in comparison to a year earlier — due to growing shopping mall culture. Vendors who used to make Rs 2,500 to Rs 6,000 per day a year ago are hardly making above Rs 2,000 now.

“We don’t have customers,” said Shiva Kandel, a vender who sells clothes at Ratnapark. He used to sell cloth above Rs 4,500 per day a year ago, according to him. Kandel started selling ready-made garments some four years ago when the businesses on streets were booming. “Those were golden times,” he remembered.

Nearly five-dozen street vendors at Ratnapark are searching for alternative business. But its not that easy to switch. Arjun Bahadur Tamang of Ranipauwa, Nuwakot thinks of returning home. “I am going home after Dashain to start vegetable farming,” he said. He has some knowledge of off-seasonal vegetable. Likewise, Madan Dahal of Jhapa is also planning to switch from garment business to fast food.

Interestingly, the street vendors who sell fast food are making a good money unlike the readymade garments sellers. There are around three dozen food stalls at Ratnapark serving Mo Mo, Chat, Panipuri and fried Chana.

“I sold 350 bottle of soda today,”

said Prem Mahato. Another road-side food stall owner Kanti Moktang is also satisfied with her earnings. “My earning is enough to feed my five-member family,” she said.

Not only the street vendors, the organised sector vendors at Exhibition Road’s makeshift market are also dissatisfied lot. Hardly 500 people visit the Hong Kong market as it is popularly known daily. There are around 200 shops. Bishnu Lamsal, a vendor said that they used to have at least 1,000 to 1,200 customers per day and still 3,000-5,000 customers used to visit Hong Kong bazar daily five years ago.

However, the number of customers have drastically come down.

“Shopping Malls are selling the same goods,” Lamsal said adding that unlike before there is no attraction of Honk Kong market now.