News>Kyrgyz bazaar sales reach second highest in seven years
Anastasiia Borisova, a vendor who has participated in the Transit Center at Manas bazaar for the past seven years, explains the culture and heritage of the Kyrgyz people sewn into the products that she makes and sells, Dec. 31, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Tracy L. DeMarco)
Russian nesting dolls, originally called Matryoshka dolls, are just one example of the many unique Kyrgyzstan culture items sold at the weekly bazaar held at Pete's Place at the Transit Center at Manas, Dec. 31, 2011. Held every Saturday, the bazaar reached its second highest sales number of more than $26,000 dollars during the 2011 holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Tracy L. DeMarco)
by Master Sgt. Tracy L. DeMarco
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/4/2012 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz vendors benefited from Transit Center at Manas shoppers two years in a row with record high sales during the holiday season.
Pete's Place at the TCM is known to coalition military members passing through or assigned here as a place to relax and connect with friends or family via Wi-Fi, but to the Kyrgyz people Pete's Place is a place of business.
In 2010, holiday sales topped nearly $27,000 dollars and the 2011 holiday rush brought in a reported total of $26,871 dollars.
Jonathan Petry, the Pete's Place manager said, "The amount of money that some of the vendors are making is quite substantial. I think for some of them this might be their only job because they are doing so well."
Since the bazaar began in 2005, the number of vendors has doubled. Currently, the bazaar is held every Saturday and hosts approximately 25 to 30 local vendors each week.
"You can tell when you talk to them that they're very grateful for the opportunity to make the extra money," Petry said.
For nearly seven years, the bazaar has been a venue for local entrepreneurs to not only make money, but share their Kyrgyz culture.
Anastasiia Borisova and her sister, brother and mother have been vendors since the beginning.
"This is one of the main incomes for five of our families," Borisova said. "Our products that we make are not only souvenirs from Kyrgyzstan, they are also part of our culture. I'm happy that we are here to offer our products, thank you for buying them from us and helping five of our families to live in Kyrgyzstan."
The average number of consumers each Saturday falls between 600 to 800 people.
"Everybody should come out and take a look because it's fun," Petry said. "There's something for everybody here, from video CDs, to music CDs, to hats, to traditional wares, to blankets."
Capt. Lee Drinkall, the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron deployment and distribution flight commander, has been to the bazaar four times in the last two months.
"I got one of the ostrich blankets. It's kind of huge, king size and the inside is a soft micro-fiber. The outside is the ostrich feathers," Drinkall said. "I'm somewhere between using it here and sending it home to the wife. At first I was going to get it as a gift and then I thought I could probably use this in my room," laughed the Des Moines, Iowa native.
Drinkall's home unit is the 132nd Fighter Wing in the Iowa Air National Guard.
Tech. Sgt. Shannon Pruett, the NCO in charge of Expeditionary Theater Distribution Center issue, 376th ELRS, purchased speakers for her MP3 player. She is deployed here from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and plans to use her speakers in her room and at work.
Meanwhile, U.S. Army Spc. Ace Estiamba, a human resource specialist with the Army Liaison Office at the TCM and deployed from Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, bought a movie during his first visit to the bazaar.
The vendors are selected by the 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron and must offer products that are not sold by other vendors.
Aqib Hussain recently joined the bazaar only two months ago.
"I want to give good information about the carpets," Hussain said. "In the future, if they want to buy carpets from different places, at least they know what they are spending their money on."
Meerim Dyikanova, has sold items such as Russian nesting dolls and hand-crafted nativity sets at the bazaar for the past five years. She enjoys the conversation, the customers from varied nations and the good sales.