on May 19, 2010
I stayed at a hostel that was within the heart of the Central Market. The market place is made of an indoor centre that is quite large in terms of size and people employed. In the indoor area are traders who sell a wide range of meat products. In the outdoor market area are traders who sell a wide range of consumer products. The main focus on the outdoor market is traders selling fresh fruit and vegetables. The one thing from a sight seeing experience was that the Central Market in Riga provided an interesting flavour of life in Riga, Latvia. Groceries, especially the fruit and vegetables are cheaper in the market compared to the large supermarkets that I visited. The traders at the market are effectively selling goods that are sold in the supermarkets. From a location perspective the market is separated slightly from the Old town side of Riga, and people who are near the railway station can access the market by walking through the subway in Central Riga. All the promotion that the Central Market gets, it is set aside from the main city centre. It is easily recognisable as there are around four arched roofs that are visible from the Railway station area. The types of sellers ranged from young people, elderly and middle aged traders. The range of consumer goods on offer, did not particularly interest me, as I tend to pay higher prices in boutique or department stores at home. I do occasionally like to find a bargain, but having looked around the place for a long time, I could find nothing that really impressed me. As mentioned, the main products on sale on the outdoor section are fruit and vegetables. The one fruit product that caught my eye initially was the grapes which looked very appealing. The strawberries also looked slightly appealing as well. The prices of the strawberries at the supermarkets were around 2.50 Latvian lats for 500 gram punnet box. By comparison at the Central Market, the prices were around 1.20-1.50 a 500 gram punnet box. It seemed at first that the prices of the fruit were slightly more expensive at the beginning area of the market, but more or less the prices were relatively similar. We found that the prices of strawberries on the weekends were lower compared to the week days. I did buy a pair of trainers. It was not that I was particularly interested, but I did show some interest in buying a pair of trainers. The sales man at one of the stalls gave me a sales pitch which I fell for. Thankfully, I managed to haggle a little and brought down the price paid of a reasonable, although unknown brand of trainers. Other items of clothing such as t shirts, shirts, baseball caps, sunglasses were all on sale here at reasonably low prices. Women’s clothing was also on sale including underwear, general wear such as skirts, blouses, dresses, jeans, and other types of clothing. I found the Central Market slightly disappointing as I wanted to buy items such as DVD's, and computer games, but the best they could do, was sell DVD's dubbed in the Russian language. For me, this proved to be slightly disappointing. Regarding sunglasses I found that the non prescription sunglasses to be low priced indeed, where the prices ranged from 3 Latvian lats, and went as high as 6 Latvian lats. As far as I was aware, the sunglasses were unbranded.The indoor area of the market was interesting. If you ever happen to stay in a good hotel in Riga, then make sure you bring a grill, as the range of meat products is very comprehensive indeed. The choice of meats included liver, beef, pork, duck, and chicken. We noticed that the displays contained very fresh meat judging by the look of the displays. The choice of cuts ranged from just about every part of the animals body. The way the meat was stored and displayed is an interesting part of the sight seeing experience as well. The prices of meat are lower compared to the supermarkets. The size of the indoor market is very big indeed as it is a very large warehouse type building. The appearance of the meat did look appealing. I thought to myself I could have a very low cost stay in Riga indeed, as the prices and availability of the meat as well as the food sold in the outdoor section of the Central Market was excellent. The indoor and outdoor parts of the market would combine well, to having a lot of fresh food that would last the duration of a short stay in Riga. On the outside section of the market are chalet style shops as well as a few shops that are of a town house style, where they sell a wide range of consumer goods. The clothing disappointed me, as I had a close look of summer style shirts where the prices were low, but the quality I could tell was acceptable, but not within my high quality standards. The fruit and vegetable traders had green coloured table stands which had corrugated roofs. The level of trade from what I saw, was relatively quiet on the Sunday, although on the Monday and Tuesday when I also visited there were more people and it looked very busy. Generally the presentation of goods was very easy on the eye and with prices displayed on goods also helped. Another thing I noticed was that inside the hostel Posh Backpackers, there is a nice Latvian lady who gave me a good haircut for a very good rate of 5 Latvian lats. There was another lady inside the hostel that does manicures and other beauty treatments. Next to the Posh backpacker’s hostel is a nice coffee shop that serves quality coffee for a very reasonable price of around 70 centimes, which is priced at slightly less than £1. I would highly recommend a visit to this coffee shop. Another interesting trader I noticed who was selling fresh orange juice for quite a low price which was very nice and refreshing.A visit to Riga is well worth visiting in getting a good flavour of Market trading, and life in Riga.
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