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Shop Till You Drop

Bali Small Scale Souvenir Shops Threatened by Handicraft Super Markets

(4/29/2012) Bali Daily reports that the sudden surge in large-scale souvenir shops popping up around Bali, primarily in Kuta, are displacing small shopkeepers selling traditional handicrafts in Bali.

Many of the new “handicraft-supermarkets” are air-conditioned, have spacious parking, fixed prices and many are open 24-hours each day. Moreover, with the increasingly short period of stay for domestic and international visitors to Bali, the chance to accomplish all shopping in a one-stop and close-to-port setting provides a strong appeal over the alternatives of haggling with shopkeepers from oftentime  unkempt stalls.

As a result, small handicraft shops are finding the struggle to survive increasingly challenging. Made Asri, a trader at the Kumbasari market,said: “People now rarely come to my shop. It is very hard to even sell a wooden statue or other piece of handicrafts.”

Local authorities, as is th case with other elements of Bali’s fast-changing business landscape, have been slow to recognize the shift in shopping behavior and now appear largely helpless to take any steps to safeguard the role of local traders.

I Wayan Gatra of Denpasar’s Industry and Trade office said: “We have been facing problems with modern min-marts and super markets that have affected businesses at traditional markets, Now we have to pay attention to these big souvenir shops.”

Promising to conduct studies and seminars on the impact of large handicraft shopping centers, there appears little chance at this point that anything can be done to stem the tide of large handicraft enterprises that threatens to sweep the small roadside handicraft shops into oblivion.

In defense of the large-scale markets, some local officials and the business people who own the new markets point to the fact that they are ordering handicraft from local trades people to stock their handicraft super markets.
Meanwhile, detractors say the new shops focus on quantity and price before quality, resulting in a decline in the skills demanded of Bali’s handicraft producers and the reputation of the island's handicrafts.