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Naha Farmers’ Market campaigns to attract customers

Date Posted: 2003-11-29

Vendors at Naha Farmers’ Market, commonly known as “Noren Ichiba,” have seen the number of its customers to drop steadily over past few years as many housewives prefer to shop cheap imported vegetables and other product at supermarkets. The market is located at the southern end of Heiwa Dori arcade in the heart of the city, and its busiest hours are between 2 and 7 a.m., when wholesalers and restaurant chefs come to buy the freshest vegetables, fish and meat.

However, the dwindling numbers of customers have the vendors worried, and they have decided to do something about the situation. Many of the vendors are female and many have worked at the market for 50 years.

The Noren Ichiba Vendors’ Association will organize a festival, complete with performances and a parade that winds from the market through Kokusai Street to Palette Kumoji on Friday and Saturday in order to increase public’s awareness of Noren Ichiba and the products they sell. “We want everyone to come to Noren Ichiba and see for themselves the best and freshest products in Naha that we sell,” Noren Ichiba Business Union Representative Katsuyo Kinjo says.

Although most of Noren Ichiba women are older, everyone says they would not work anyplace else. “I have worked here for 46 years, and will continue as long as I stay healthy,” 65-year-old Kiyoko Higa, a vegetable vendor says. “We are here to make sure that our customers get the freshest vegetables, fruit and flowers in Okinawa,” she assured.

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