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A colleague of mine told me to visit the old wholesale produce market in the outskirts of Zagreb which caters for small retailers. So Davorin my all time favorite taxi driver brought me there in the morning before office hours.
On the way he showed me the new wholesale market full of large trucks catering for the big supermarket chains. But our goal was the traditional one further down the road. In front of the big gate he dropped me off and I felt like entering something which was not made for consumers & tourists. I expected to be asked for an ID or similar but everything was laid back.
Despite being there relatively early, it was not packed with traders and produce, I guess more than half of the space was underutilized. I was a little disappointed, but Davorin had already told me that the big business was done elsewhere.
I made my round to get an overview. The wholesale dealers were coming from Croatia but also as far as Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina. And most of the produce were grown in this region as well, even though I saw some larger bags of carrots, strawberries and apples from France, Italy etc.
From time to time a van stopped at one of the stalls, the driver got out looked at the produce, some words were exchanged, the boxes with produce were weighted on the big scales and then disappeared in the van. I was wondering where those small retailers had their shops as I never had seen them in the Zagreb city center.
I continued to make my round for good photos and to start talking with the traders. A few were able to speak English and I had some friendly exchanges. Most were curious about me, trying to understand why I was taking pictures. After some explanations they were even willing to “pose” a bit.
The ambiance at the market seemed cordial, it seemed less about competition, more about having some fun before any customer came over to do some business. Nobody looked rich, nobody had a large lorry. It seemed to come from a time when food production and distribution had not gained today’s scale and intensity. Somehow I felt sad that this type of small scale business had become a niche thus loosing more space for “true” personalities who shape a public place.
Davorin, my taxi driver picked me up and I started my office day.
I still feel a bit sad about the decline
All in all: Visit this traditional wholesale market in Zagreb before it will probably disappear. It gives you an impression on how small trade – wholesale & retail – works to feed Croatias capital
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