Modern fresh food markets
do well in housing suburbs

CLEANUP ON AISLE ONE: Customers browse the fresh vegetable section at Pasar Modern in the Bumi Serpong Damai City housing complex in Tangerang. The market is one of the first in the country to adopt a clean traditional market concept. (JP/Multa Fidrus)
CLEANUP ON AISLE ONE: Customers browse the fresh vegetable section at Pasar Modern in the Bumi Serpong Damai City housing complex in Tangerang. The market is one of the first in the country to adopt a clean traditional market concept. (JP/Multa Fidrus)

It's hardly surprising when people turn their backs on the traditional market given its notorious reputation for being a muddy, cramped and smelly place.

But the traditional market in the Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) self-contained housing area in Serpong, Tangerang, called a "modern market" is an exception to the rule.

There, the market stays dry and orderly, luring customers from the middle-income housing areas to stop by and shop for their groceries.

"I don't just come here to shop for all my family's needs. I frequently bring along my children and husband, particularly during holidays, because they also enjoy spending time here," Ika Setiani, who lives in a nearby housing estate, told The Jakarta Post last weekend.

The 37-year-old mother of two said the traditional market served the residents and gave small traders nearby the opportunity to make a living.

Being far from business and trade centers, housing clusters and self-contained residential areas on the outskirts of Jakarta have tried to cater to all their residents' needs.

Malls and the shopping centers came first. Years later, several developers in Tangerang built traditional markets, offering their residents an alternative place to buy fresh groceries at lower prices.

A basic commodity trader, Tie Lin, 50, said that although most of her customers drove their own cars to the market, they still enjoyed haggling even though it was not something they were good at.

"Buyers have the right to bargain and we have the right to put our prices up or down," she said.

The modern market, which is located on a 2.6-hectare property near the Serpong-Pondoh Indah turnpike, opened to public in July 2004.

It has 303 spaces in its main area for traditional traders, 320 kiosks facing that area and 100 shops near the market area.

Every evening, there are 100 cafes in tents set up in the parking lot serving a variety of local favorites.

Muhammad Ridwan, marketing manager of Serpong City Paradise, has installed a modern market inside their area. He said the existence of the market supported other housing areas and several nearby villages because the regular traditional markets were located far away.

"We adopted the concept of a modern market from various models," he said on Wednesday.

The market has 100 kiosks and 56 lots, and was opened last June. All of the kiosks and lots were sold out before the opening.

To attract more visitors, the sogo jongkok and fruit wholesalers with lower prices set up stalls every Saturday and Sunday.

Sogo jongkok is a local term for non-permanent market where street vendors sell second-hand or even counterfeited branded items.

Property developer Summarecon opened Gading Serpong's traditional market, Sinpasa Modern Market, in September 2004.

"The market concept is adopted from Pasar Mandiri, a modern market we built in Kelapa Gading, East Jakarta, in 1985." said Cut Meutia, corporate public relation manager of Summarecon.

The Simpasa Modern Market is located right next to Summarecon Mall Serpong so that visitors are given more opportunity to purchase what they need after shopping at the mall.

The market has 142 kiosks offering basic commodities and 137 lots for vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. It opens from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

"In their contract, all traders agree to abide by the regulations we apply in order to keep the market clean and comfortable," Meutia said.

She said traders were also obliged to provide fresh merchandise and sell them to buyers at affordable prices. Visitors are also given the opportunity to bargain any transactions they make.

"The strategy we use to keep the market crowded each day is maintaining comfort and good sanitation," Meutia said.

Diana Natalie, 40, who manages a restaurant at the BSD traditional market, said customers could wait in line while market management supervised traders to sustain cleanliness.

"Look at the traders in this (BSD) market. They are perfect examples of traditional traders who abide by the rules. The market stays clean and neat at all the time," she said.

Diana said she was surprised to hear that within a year her food business would be making over Rp 8 million (US$851) a day.

"It's not just BSD residents who shop here. Most of my customers come from Pamulang, Bintaro, Pondok Indah (other housing areas in South Jakarta) and Gading Serpong," she said.

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