Most likely you have heard something about Yiwu as the “largest small commodity wholesale market in the world”, “it is the center of commodities”, “it is a paradise for businessmen”, but you may not know the history of Yiwu market clearly.
Roma could not be built in one day, same as Yiwu Market.
Yiwu Market has grown out of nothing and expanded from small to large, from quality accumulation to qualitative leap.
Yiwu is a hilly region originally inhabited by farmers. Poverty-ridden land left peasants with no option but trade for a living. As early as the 1600s, trading flowered in Yiwu.
Being lack of money, farmers had to use something else to trade for what they wanted – chicken feathers.
Why chicken feathers? Because chicken feathers were a superb material to make fertilizer, and fertilizer could make their poor land grow more grains.
Furthermore, the good-looking feathers could also be made into feather dusters for exporting.
How did they get the feathers? They used the local product brown sugar exchange for chicken feather, which can be used as fertilizer. Good looking chicken feather can be made as feather duster that would for trading again.
Through do business around Yiwu people gain better life.
Definitely “Sugar-For-Chicken Feathers” influenced all business in Yiwu.
The Yiwu Businessmen Origin – Sugar Shoulder-Pole Men/Feather-for-Candy-Men
It was in the 1600s that Yiwu peasants during periods in which farming did not require substantial work, they traveled across villages, selling sewing needles, threads, candies and other small articles carrying in bamboo baskets, by a shoulder-pole. In order to attract customers, they used a rattle drum.
These men were called as “Sugar Shoulder-Pole Men”(SSM)/”Feather-for-Candy-Men” in some rural areas.
The first group of SSM came in 1600s. They were a group of solders under a famous general fighting back pirates, after winning the battle and pushed pirates back to sea. They went back home. These solders were more used to travelling like an army than staying on poor farmland as a peasant.
Soon, the SSM grew in number, the trading population grew larger, the earliest wholesale markets came into existence in Yiwu around 1700s to cater them.
It was only until 1949 that Planned Economy was set up there.
Planned Economy VS. Sugar-For-Chicken Feathers
As PRC is a communist country, no free trade was allowed. SSM were considered as being capitalism and was harshly pressed down.
But the mountainous Yiwu still remained unchanged, poor land still remained unchanged, people still remained starved, even it was already communist country.
People still needed food, so many of SSMs were still in this business secretly.
It was too risky for both SSMs and wholesalers. Each time they got caught up, all their goods and earnings would be confiscated, some were even put into prison.
This kind of dangerous cat-and-mouse game lasted for 33 years until April 1982.
Mrs. Feng Ai Qian & Mr. Xie Gao Hua
After her goods were confiscated again, Mrs. Feng Ai Qian, a young woman with 5 kids to support, went directly to the Yiwu Mayer, Mr. Xie Gao Hua’s office, and told him that she wanted to do business, other poor people also wanted to do business.
Why they could not do business? Why the governor didn’t care his people’s living?
After a short but intense argument, she slammed the door and went out!
This slam also slammed the mayor went into a-several-month investigation in Yiwu. After his investigation, he found that the secret wholesales were all in a better living condition than those peasants. So he made a brave decision: let the ball roll!
That was a brave decision, as he could easily lose his job or even be put into prison for supporting capitalism. But he did that, only for the wellbeing of his people.
Mr. Deng Xiao Ping (the former China President) was also considering free economy then.
First Yiwu Market – One of the First Free Marketplaces In PRC’s History
The local government put cement boards over a stink ditch nearby Huqingmen Street, and set up around 700 stalls on September 1982.
That was one of the first free marketplaces in PRC’s History. The first Yiwu Market (also wholesale market) was born!
After more than 30 years of development, went through several rebuilds, several extensions, several location changes…
Now Yiwu Market consists of 3 main market complex: Yiwu International Trade City/Yiwu Intl Trade Mart (Futian Market), Huangyuan Clothes Market, Yiwu International Raw Material & Production Equipment Market, and a dozen small specialized products market.
Total store fronts exceeds 80,000+. Yearly turnover exceeds 10 billion USD, became the world largest wholesale market for small commodities.
If you come to Yiwu or Guangzhou Market, EJET Solutions offers pick up service, hotel reservations, translation service and buying agent. If you need more help, please leave a message and contact us.