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Community market opens amid urban micro-revamping trend

March 01, 2019

A community market featuring eateries, services and art galleries officially opened on Thursday, and was immediately a popular example of ongoing urban renewal.

Yuyuan Public Market on Yuyuan Road in Changning District has been built in the remains of a derelict dormitory of a medical school. 

The two-story building at the entrance of Hongye Garden, an old residential neighborhood, fulfills the needs of residents including their cultural needs, according to Creater, the firm in charge of the work.

The ground floor of the market, formerly a public toilet, has a wet market featuring organic food and a convenience store.

A number of eateries offering traditional Shanghai breakfast food such as youtiao (fried dough stick), dabing (flat bread) and dumplings have opened.

A tailor, locksmith and cobbler who once operated out of nearby street stalls now have their own studios. All small businesses have been granted low rents.

Wu Xingxiang, a cobbler who inherited the business from his father and had been working under a plane tree opposite the market for nearly 20 years, was invited to open the market with the subdistrict and company officials.

“I never imagined I would enjoy such an honor,” Wu said.

Mi Shan and her husband Yu Teng have been running a dumpling store in the community for four years. They welcomed their first customers after the official opening. Their former store near the market has been converted into a tiny art gallery named 9m2.

“The new store is larger, tidier and many of our old customers have come,” said Mi.

The stories of the craftsmen and small business owners are part of an exhibition on the second floor of the market, the Su Shanghai community art museum, which is supported by the Liu Haisu Art Museum. 

Photos of the craftsman dressed in fashionable clothes along with their tools are displayed beside their stories in the exhibition.

"The exhibition highlights the spirit of street craftsmen, devoted to their small business and skills," said Huang Zhiwei, vice president of the Shanghai Creater Industrial Co, who organized the exhibition along with the museum.

Hundreds of residents, mostly seniors, were keen to look around the new market and visit the exhibitions about the craftsmen they meet every day.

"Since the place has become more beautiful, I think the quality of life of the residents will also be improved," said Mo Linxuan, a 76-year-old resident who has lived in the community for three decades. His wife bought a large bag of vegetables and some eggs.

"The prices are quite low, maybe because it's the first day," said Mo's wife. "At least I don't need to walk a kilometer to the wet market any more."

A French resident of the neighborhood for 10 years was attracted to the market by the large crowd of people. "It's good to have such a market and art gallery within the old community," he said.

Visitors were invited to bring their old appliances to the exhibition at the gallery. Old sewing machines, televisions, radios, telephones and electric fans are among the most wanted items.