Snaps of the holiday

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Eyob survives by selling small household items on Addis Ababa’s busy Mexico Avenue. Last week the teenager spent most of his time dodging police cracking down on street vendors near the exhibition.
Exhibition time means better business for salespeople like Eyob because overflow from the markets often bring him extra customers.
“I might make three times as many sales near the exhibitions than I would on regular days,” said Eyob. “People coming in and out of the bazaar will often buy from vendors like me because we will carry items they don’t have at the bazaar or we can offer them at a cheaper price.”
Even though the location is the same, the exhibition has changed with the times. With the digital age, it is harder to find as many cameramen taking instant ‘Polaroid’ pictures; a popular money making endeavor previously.
Now opportunistic thieves have taken advantage of the opportunities posed by so many people in such a small space. It is common to see police arresting criminals for attempting to break into cars close by the exhibition or those pick pocketing inside the venue.
The exhibitions mean that three times a year people selling fast food and drinks make good money.
Cereal and vegetable rolls that usually go for ten birr at regular markets were being sold for 20 birr at this year’s Christmas exhibition and bazaar, organized by Habesha Weekly. Throughout the exhibition food prices were jacked up.
Habesha Weekly managed to host slightly higher than 500 businesses in this exhibition. They won the bid from the city chamber by paying 26.2 million birr for 21 days. The average rent price per sqm is 11,000 birr according to Samson who is the marketing and public relations head.
“We tried for many years to win this procurement and this year finally we managed to get both the Christmas and Easter exhibitions,” he stated.
The Exhibition Center & Market Development Enterprise floated the bid between a few operators but Habesha Weekly offered a record price for the 23,000sqm at the exhibition.
For a long time people shopping at the exhibitions have complained that the prices are higher there than at local markets. Businesspeople at the exhibition counter that they have they are paying a lot for the booths so they have to charge more.
There is an average flow of 30,000 visitors per day and on the weekends that number rises to around 60,000 according to Samson who expects to host over one million visitors by the end of the exhibition.
Habesha Weekly would like the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce (AACSA), which owns the center to stop basing the procurement on financial offers.
“If the procurement process also takes a technical evaluation into account it could lower the financial offers and the savings would be passed onto the customer,” said Samson.
Entertainment and event organizer, Jorka, partnered with Addis Park to hold a different exhibition. Addis Park rents spaces to 200 businesses. They pay 6,600 birr per square meter. This is the second year they have done this.
Well known artists including Dawit Melllese, Mikael Bleayneh, Dawit Negu and Asge Dendesho performed at concerts which were held every day. Estimates are that around a million people will attend the event.
They are hoping that the expanded space at their venue will create a more enjoyable shopping experience. Each cell is separated by five meters.
“Our focus is to set the standard for exhibitions. We would like to have exhibitions and trade fairs in more places and more often,” said Biruk Zenebe who works for Jorka. “We are also planning to enter the catering business by diversifying our services and extending our operations to the regional level.”
Biruk would not say how much it cost them to rent the space but he did say that they negotiated to make sure the park met standards and worked to help maintain the park. Both exhibitions had games and activities for children. Habesha featured the original character robots from Jurassic World, which are currently touring the globe.
The Jurassic World Dinosaurs are robots up to 12 meters high. They will remain at the exhibition center until Easter, according to Samson. After the company won the bid to host this year’s exhibition it started long-term negotiations with the organizers. The characters had to travel from China through Djibouti and got to the exhibition late.
“We decided to take the entertainment in the exhibition to the next level,” said Samson. “It will give the children the opportunity to become curious about Dinosaurs were like. Visitors will be able to take pictures with the robots, fell their heartbeats or play with them, which gives our kids a new and educational experience.”
For those shopping for more practical items, you can get a five-liter jar of cooking oil for 100 birr les at both exhibitions.
Butter was being sold between 250 and 320 birr at different markets and as usual fresh butter costs more. Sheno was in the most demand and if you want butter from a different region it will cost you more as well.
Living hens have gone down in price since the previous holiday at Shola market. They range from 270 to 200 birr. Eggs ranged from 4 to 4.30 birr which also is a decrease from the Ethiopian New Year, when they were sold for five birr.
“I have been in the egg business since 2004 and this year the holiday seems very good and calm compared to the New Year’s market when eggs reached record prices,” said Abera. “There is no scarcity in the supply of eggs and there is also a good demand thank God,” said a former athlete and business person.
Spices are also among the highly consumed items during the holidays. Mekelesha, a combination of spices that go into many sauces, was being sold at its previous price 500 birr per kilo. Chili pepper costs 70 birr without the spices. Red pepper goes for between 70 and 80 birr depending on the quality. Spices are in high demand as the holidays get closer.