The sidewalk adjacent to an elevated overpass in downtown Yangon is full of examples of informal business (as is the case with most sidewalks in Yangon). The vendors that have taken up this covered portion of Pansodan Bridge take advantage of the shade and protection from the elements provided by the covered sidewalk, as well as the railing that separates the sidewalk from the road.
In this first example, the potential for a 50-foot drop on to the train tracks below makes the goods display technique for these bananas somewhat risky.
This walkway-based vendor located nearby the above bananas does not push her luck as far. She sells fried snacks, with her kit representing the quintessentially pared-down carry of a mobile vendor in Yangon:
– One stool for displaying goods, upon which is placed the metal platter favored by numerous mobile vendors across Yangon.
– One stool for sitting upon, which has been extensively repaired using a combination of packing tape, wood, plastic twine, and newspaper).
– One shorter plastic stool, upon which is placed:
– A plastic basket, directly in front of her for easy access to plastic bags for wrapping customers’ purchases and, beneath that, some food and drink for personal use. The basket also contains this microenterprise’s “cash register” – a small bag filled with money for making change and storing the day’s revenue (another reason to keep it within arm’s reach at all times).
The young boy, who co-runs the papaya and watermelon operation with his mother, uses the ledge of the walkway’s railing to balance metal platters crowded with fruit. While the fall is less serious than the bananas’ potential plummet, to have one metal platter tip over would eliminate a significant share of inventory – along with any hope of profit for the day.
Here, a customer takes notice, approaches, and purchases some papaya.
Down the railing a bit from the papaya and watermelon one notices a creative pineapple goods display solution. This vendor has capitalized upon the ridges cut within each fruit to remove the inedible exterior “eyes” to build miniature structures for displaying his goods. Also, note the level of trust implicit in placing the “cash register” (here, the recycled bottom half of a discarded one-liter water bottle) in such close reach of customers (or those with less pure intentions).