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Old-fashioned weekly markets run by local farmers and merchants threatened by chain stores.
Today, however, younger Turks have to wait until they’re at least 62 to retire, while some older Turks can still collect in their early 50s.
Omer and his wife watch their son and grandson carry on the family business while strolling around the crowded bazaar. Although development has drawn people away, the market continues to fill up every Saturday morning with older, more traditional-looking women from all over the city. At a market where two pounds of carrots can cost you less than 75 cents, the price is right for many Turkish families and penny-pinching students.
Towards the far end of the market, shoppers can find a treasure trove of random goodies. Factory rejects, knockoff shirts and sweatpants, cheap Chinese-made toys and household supplies, and even a vendor selling scarves and sewing supplies for the massive “Teyze” demographic. (“Teyze” is a word meaning maternal aunt, but is also traditionally used as a term of endearment for elder women.)
Whether or not this village tradition will survive the rapid pace of development that some economic experts foresee, for now these markets remain the only sources of income for hundreds of families. Moreover, Turkey needs all the jobs it can generate for such a young population eager to work.
At the end of my “bazaar day,” I left with a broom, a pound of carrots, a plastic dish-drying rack and a spatula. All bought for less than five Lira, or $3.50.
Oh, and, of course, two cups of tea. No charge.