Craft Bazaar now allowed to open on Tuesdays (but apparently without customers)

APIC will allow stalls to operate on Tuesdays starting this week till November end in view of the tourist peak season; however vendors expressed various business hindrances including lack of customers and maintenance of the CB

For the first time this year, shops at the Craft Bazaar (CB) in the capital conducted business on a Tuesday like any other day of the week.

Starting this week, the CB will remain open on Tuesdays till November end. Normally shops at the CB are closed on the day as directed by the ministry of economic affairs (MoEA).

While some vendors are optimistic about the addition of one business day, some said it will not make any or little difference to their business turnover.

President of CB, Tenzin Dorji, also proprietor of Blue Poppy Handicraft said the community is expecting at least an additional return of Nu 3000 per stall with Tuesdays now open for business.

He said the vendors made substantial income during the peak season last year and hopes to experience the same this year.

Chief executive officer of MoEA’s Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts (APIC) Lam Kezang Chophel said the entire handicrafts fraternity is optimistic about it as festivals such as the Thimphu Tshechhu among others are approaching.

Ugyen Wangmo of Raven Homemade Products said, “We hope the interim rule of allowing Tuesdays would make a difference but its normally just a matter of an additional Nu 2000 at the maximum”.

The average weekly income of a handicraft shop at the CB is Nu 10,000 when the business is good. “Its nil during slack days,” Choki a stall owner said.

Meanwhile, numerous problems faced by the vendors at the CB haven’t been addressed by authorities till date. Most stall owners said problems such as poor wooden flooring and leakage from bamboo ply roofs has been persistent since the beginning of this year.

Choki Om of Choki Handicrafts said, “It’s always a problem when it rains”.

Some items of high value were destroyed due to leakage from the joints in the gutter systems. “Products such as expensive paintings and framed photographs are easily spoiled by the rain”, Kinley Zangmo of Bhutan Authentic Gifts said.

There are risks of electric short-circuit from the meters placed directly below the leakage points, and the axis holding heavy front shutters are weak, hinges are twisted and disoriented making the stall insecure, and the joints of bamboo plies not sealed from outside making the craft bazaar weak and unsafe for shoppers as well as stall owners.

One of the major all time issue that the CB vendors are faced with is lack of adequate tourist customers. This, the vendors said was because other handicraft shops in town are allowed to lure the tour guides with cuts and commissions for bringing in tourists to their shops. Commission for each purchase can range from 15% to 20% of the total cost of a product.

“We don’t get any high end tourist customers at the CB because we are not allowed to offer commissions to the tour guides or any tour operator,” Tshering Yangzom of Bumthap Handicrafts said.

She said the entire CB community will be grateful if the authorities looked into the issue or if the tour guides resisted the temptation of such commissions.

The President, Tenzin Dorji said the management committee of the CB is working with concerned authorities to curb this issue.

The 500 meter long Bhutanese Authentic Craft Bazaar, initiated with a Nu 7mn budget opened in October last year and has 80 stalls.

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