To use the expression “mini market” for Yiwu market would be the understatement of the century. It is not possible, but, if I should try to describe the Yiwu trade center with 2 words only, the most fitting word would be “Get lost”.
The market is huge actually it is more than huge. Leading world authorities like The UN and the world bank honored China Commodity City, as Yiwu market is also called, the largest wholesale market in the world. You can say “If China is a factory, then Yiwu is the showroom. Here you will find products on display from all over China
Yiwu got that honor of back in 2005, and the city has only grown since, and it is still growing. At the moment they are building a new skyscraper “city” next to the market. The “skyscraper city is for offices.
Inside the market, you have the chance for face to face negotiations with more than 210.000 different suppliers, look at the more than 1.800.000 different products on display, visit the more than 75.000 different booths or just sightseeing the area there covers at more than 5.500.000 million square meters. These are numbers I have found, I did not do the counting myself, but I did a lot of walking.
However, these are only numbers, and I knew these numbers before I visited the market for the first time. Even I had read about how big the Yiwu wholesale market is, I was stunned when I first saw the market with my own eyes, to put it mildly. The main market consists of 5 districts each of which is the size of a very large shopping center.
First I went to district 2. I had an idea about I wanted to see it all. I went to the 4th. floor and started to look around.
When I had walked around for 6 hours it was almost 5 pm, and the shops started to close, you could hear the special sound of shutters that close around you. I realized that I had not even seen all of the 4th. floor, I had seen almost all.. but not all.
Ok.. I had walked slowly around, I had visited some few shops and asked some prices, also I had been lost a couple of times. But in 6 hours I had not even been able to check out a single floor, it says something about how big the market is.
There are 5 districts with 5 floor each, it is 30 floors, so it can take quite some time to walk around and see it all. Each district has 5 floors, each floor is divided into sections. Each section is again divided into product groups, in that way, navigating the market and finding what you are looking for should be easier. Or that was the idea but over time the system is not that clear anymore, the shops have started to mix, but it still kind of work.
Below you will see pictures from around the market, it can look like the pictures are taken from the same area, but they are not. When I walked around the market, besides that I got lost a lot of times, I had a constant feeling of, that I had been here before. I think it is called “DÃ©jÃ Vu”.
The sheer size of the Yiwu market has a strange effect on me. It starts every time I walk around for more than 4 hours. I start to feel like I am dreaming or more likely having a nightmare. The common one everybody knows, the one where you are dreaming you are running and running but you are not getting out of the place.
I start to feel like I am walking around I circles, no matter where I am looking I am looking at something I just have seen, every time I turn a corner I come to a street I just have been in.
When it happens to me there is only one thing to do and that is to go to the roof, where there is a very large car park. When I’m on the roof, I can get an idea of where I am and what direction I should go, to get there where I want to be. Yiwu market is one of the places where i am really happy that there is a compass on my iPhone.