Friday, September 16, 2005

Another day, another dollar

It's not the best photo, but on the right of the photo is a roadside grocery stall located across the road from my office. Every day, two of the red pantech trucks like the one you can see in the photo arrive around 9.00am, and for the next 5 hours the stall owners and their family unload the trucks and arrange the stock neatly on the shelves in a very organised and colourful way. They also fill buckets with water from the open stormwater drain that runs behind the stall, and use the water to dampen the road surface immediately in front of the stall to suppress dust.

Eventually, around 2.00pm the store is ready for business, and the owners can take a little break until the the day shift employees from the surrounding factories finish work at around 3.00pm and fill the street with traffic as they head home. It seems to me that the store caters for people who want to buy a few groceries on the way home, plus passers-by who live in the area.

As roadside stores go, it's bigger than most, and has quite a lot of stock, which is unusual for this type of business, since it takes good cash flow to afford to buy stock to put on the shelves.

The store stays open until sunset, which is around 6.00pm all year round. Even though there is an electricity pole right next to the stall the owners haven't taken the initiative to splice a line from the power supply to light up their stall at night, unlike many of their peers, which is very unusual.

So, once trading ends sometime between 6.00pm and 7.00pm, all the stock has to be packed up into the trucks again, since the store has no way of being locked or secured after hours. I haven't stayed at the office to see how long it takes to pack everything up, but I'm guessing a good couple of hours. Essentially, there is around 7 hours of unpacking, setup and packing each day, for about 4 or maybe 5 hours of serving the public.

And they do this every day of the week.


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