Ramadan and Bayram shopping in Ankara is the most frantic; This time, the merchants of Ulus Hal ve İtfaiye, who have food and clothing of all kinds, of all qualities and suitable for all budgets, are this time troubled. In fact, he has been suffering for a long time, but this time those with different expectations after the pandemic have once again been wrong. As I spoke, all the stores I dived into were nearly empty, worried that I couldn’t have enough conversation with shopkeepers due to the intensity of the customer base. I don’t see a stream of people along the street either.
I am in front of Gözde Kundura, just at the beginning of the Circassian street. Children’s shoes are mostly on the shelves. Oğuz Özger has worked in this store for 12 years. Gözde Kundura is a 36-year-old boutique. He had a shop before, but he couldn’t hold it. Incredible drop in business from November 2021. He says: “The best selling thing would be shoes, but even the cheapest thing we sell is now expensive to the customer.” Most Syrian and Afghan origins come to the shop. “Without them, there’s almost no sales,” he says. While chatting, 4 foreign nationals walk in to buy shoes. In fact, he proves what he said…
“Young Dried Nuts” caught our eye 150 yards away. As you know, Candy Day is coming; Naturally, the sale of treats must be good. “How are the sales?” I said. Mr. Kaya gives a meaningful and humorous answer: “The food was about to be cooked, the tube was finished”. His hometown is Elazig. Together with his older brother, they have been running this shop for 36 years. “The customer gets used to the high price; hazelnuts are 70 in the afternoon and 78 in the evening. I get the food and tube joke when I say “They don’t buy it, of course.” Most chickpeas and peanuts were grown. “We lost 40% of our customers, which we can call fat permanently, as they say,” he says.
They have already been closed for 6 months in the pandemic. They couldn’t take advantage of the merchant loan or anything. He shows me the bench. They say we know the time when we used to sell 50 tons of sugar during Ramadan and the sugar festival until 20 years ago. Its sales fell to 1 ton just before the pandemic. Now he’s not sure he can sell the 300 kilos of sugar and butterscotch he has. Eid Chocolate which was 12TL last year now opens my eyes when I say 44TL.
“We couldn’t even talk to you here in the past. Why ? When I said, “We were barely able to keep up with the client with three employees. We couldn’t keep up with the thief, candy-stealing kids and counter-scammers. It would also be intense,” he says.
They also say that the vast majority of their clients are Somalis and Syrians, and they are now clerks and employers. We understand that there is a disadvantage, but it is above all the disadvantage of the operator, who cannot see his way economically; It is not hatred of immigration. Another Syrian couple bought sweets while I was talking to them in the store.
Towards the end of the street, Kars Dairy approaches me. The store owner, Nusret Demirel, is already ready to talk. It offers Güvermış Çecil cheese. “We used to sell it for 35 TL. Its price has increased so much since November; We sell between 75 and 80. We can’t really sell it, he laughs.
The pandemic has turned into salt and pepper for this crisis and this stagnation; he is also one of those who cannot obtain trader loans. He moved his workplace three times in 1 year because of store rents. “My store burned down 4 years ago; my possessions, of course. I lost 70 to 80 million of my possessions due to electrical contact. I asked the municipality for help. They said we could only do food aid; When the governor said he could only help foreign nationals, I was devastated,” he says.
“Long before the pandemic, cheese was sold in 70-pound bags, but now I hardly ever sell 15-pound bags. Thousand TL on the day when we achieved the best turnover; whereas a few years ago, we said eh even at 5 thousand. Think about the rest,” he continues.
Nusret Bey says the majority of those who come to buy cheese are Arabs and blacks. Again, the chat is interrupted from time to time by those asking for prices. “One day, 50-60 people ask for the price and taste it, but they don’t buy; I’m a living witness when I speak, “It’s sad but true.”
As we were talking, traders came over and joined in the conversation. A statement like “Syrians live the economic family system that we had here 25 years ago”. One or two nuclear families live in a house, and when a man works, he feeds the household. Of course, not to mention state aid, ”they jump.
“Do you think that a Syrian who can go to his country during the holiday is a refugee? they ask me. I am not the addressee of this question and cannot answer it; but I almost experienced the economic difficulties with them for an hour.
We’ll hit the road again next week, and I’m going back with the hope that it might be an active bazaar market.