The Yiwu International Trade City is a sprawling wholesale market in China which has developed since the early 2000s into an extraordinary seven kilometre long shopping centre, with five districts containing over 60,000 individual booths or shops selling 400,000 different types of products. Though targeted at international business buyers purchasing inexpensive, mass-market goods it also serves the domestic general consumer, pretty much providing any portable commodities that you can think of; both branded and off-brand.
One of my favourite YouTubers, Scotty Allen of the Strange Parts channel, has visited the continuous mall-like warehouses which make up the China Commodity City, as it is also known, joined by Colin Abroadcast. Among the highlights of the trip is a visit to a self-service convenience store which has no employees, all the purchases and payments being automated through smartphone apps and scanned QR-codes. Which is the likely future of franchised 7/Eleven-style shops in the developed world. Above all, looking at the occasionally familiar low-cost bric-à-brac and other decorative or utility items, one is reminded of the vast industrial and consumer power of the People’s Republic of China.