Mass Production Pushes Out Handmade Goods in Vernissage

Vernissage Market (Tamara Areshian \ Wikimedia)

YEREVAN—Veteran vendors at Vernissage, the famed outdoor market in central Yerevan that recently went under reconstruction to increase its appeal to tourists, are fed up. Many of them say that despite recent “improvements” to the market, the site is increasingly becoming a place that obstructs the promotion of local handmade goods.

They complain that artisan products are being pushed out by cheap, mass produced souvenirs, which have a generic ‘ethnic’ look, but have been produced in China or brought from a local department store (“Petak”) in Yerevan for resale.

Some vendors are complaining of poor management of the market. The price of stalls is 1,000 AMD per square meter, all year round, even though business drops dramatically during the winter, and vendors are required to pay in cash, but get no receipt in return. According to Hetq, who reached out to the limited liability company in charge of the managing rents, the company’s director says the year-round rents are used to pay utilities, taxes, and wages of the crews that maintain the market.

Other vendors complain that there is not enough room in the market, telling that between 80 to 85 vendors have to be turned away each weekend due to a lack of space.

Vernissage was established in 1980s as a way for mostly art students to display their art in public. By the 1990s, it became one of the primary centers for art exhibitions, which reached tourists, and one of the few places in which artists were able to sell their work. As a result, merchants also began hosting stands there. The reputation for artistry and originality holds strong to this day, though artisans offering handmade products are in decline.

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1 Comment

  1. It is a pity for the Artisans and should not import from China. Niagara falls is so dissapointing ad my sisters could not find anything actually made in Canada. It is horrible. When I had a shop and was promoting artisans local these Chinese were coming to my shop and taking photographs. They are like locusts and their main word is money money money. Horrid. Stop importing poor and poisenous goods.

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