Yiwu is a hilly region with farmers as its natives. Poverty-ridden land left peasants with no option but trade for a living. As early as 1600s, trading flowered in Yiwu to never look back again.
It was in 1600s that Yiwu peasants started trading for chicken feathers as it was used as natural fertilizer for crops. They made some other attractive household articles using these feathers and even exported them. When there was not much to do in farmlands, they travelled across villages to sell sewing needles, threads and sugar chunks and what not. These city men were also named as Sugar Shoulder-pole Men in some rural areas. Soon they grew in number and many wholesale markets came into existence to cater them. It was only in 1949 when Planned Economy took birth in this place.
Planned Economy and Sugar-for-Chicken Feathers
Earlier, the trade system was considered to be capitalist and hence, never got appreciated. However, things didn’t change much in the mountainous Yiwu. People had no option but to be in the same business to survive, this time secretly though. It was illegal and thus once caught; their belongings were confiscated by the authorities.
Once a Yiwu Mayer, Xie Gao Hua carried out an investigation and found out that the secret wholesalers were in a better living conditions than that of the peasants. So he finally took the decision in the favor of wellbeing of people. Eventually the things changed and the free markets came into existence.
The First Free-Marketplace in Chinas History
Then in 1982, the local government put cement boards over a stink ditch nearby Huqingmen Street, and set up around 700 stalls. And it was then that Yiwu market was born.
Over the course of time, Yiwu wholesale market has undergone several changes. Now Yiwu International Trade Center has the capacity for over 70,000 stalls earning huge profits of billions USD. It has surely become the world’s most popular wholesale market for various products.