Keeping the Grand Bazaar Alive

” … and I became exhausted. I am tired! How neglectecl I look and how sick I am inside … However, I can raise you up from the place you knelt down. I can put the dress of culture on you and make you join to the dance … All you have to do is to remember … ” Those words of Attila Özbey excite people who read the Grand Bazaar Magazine. But what about those who did not? How can we remember the Grand Bazaar again’ How can we show the attention that befits its age and pride again? How can we save a “tired” city hero instead of leaving him to his destiny? These questions were on the agenda of the search conference titled “The Grand Bazaar is searching its future” that was arranged by the Grand Bazaar Tradesmen Assodation in İstanbul Chamber of Commerce on February 11-12 of 2005. What was not on the agenda was our carelessness anel disloyalty that caused this “outcry” of the Grand Bazaar, and o ur penchant for those· shopping centers w hi ch actually are the worst enemies of all the historic bazaars in the cities of our country. The biggest economic basis for the policies which keep the country away from industrialization and production is perhaps public’s consuming all of their money … Likely, instead of markets and bazaar where people buy only what they need, the crowd of huge stores where people buy as much as they can fill their shopping carts and pay not with cash but credit cards must be the result of this policy. Corruption of identity …


As the matter of the fact, in the conference, it was understood that in this situation, it was not even easy to search the future of the Grand Bazaar, let alone seeing it… If this kind of a magnificent historic bazaar existeel in any of the cities of the world, besides keeping it alive with constant restorations, in order to preserve its active existence anel prestige, those new shopping centers woulel not even be allowed to be competitors … However, the Grand Bazaar, which has been senring İstanbul and even the entire country for 543 years, gradually becomes isolateel, old anel is left alone in front of huge ‘shopping centers’. Even in some of the European countries, the reason why those famous supermarkets have not been alloweel to  operate inside the city for fifteen years is to protect the ‘traditional markets’ and bazaars there. Besides, when people shop by only looking at the shelves instead of stopping by at different stores and tatking to different sellers, their social sides become blunt and social relations weaken. In bazaars, ‘the humanistic relations’ between ‘the buyer’ and ‘the seller’ strengthen the togetherness in the urban life. Even while those societies who limit ‘shopping’ only to ‘shops’ pay attention to these relations, we don’t care about them. Furthermore, we don’t realize the importance of ‘buying’ and ‘selling’, which creates relations between people, instead we are just ‘shopping..

This shows the !eve! that ‘corruption of identity’ has reached. Imagine the Grand Bazaar. .. Buying and selling is only lived in the’bazaar’. What is done through the shelves of supermarkets is just ‘shopping’. Against the ways of consumption After we mentioned these in the meeting, we thought if there still could be sorne- tbing to do? Saying ‘It is what it is’ and not finding solutions was now in the past. ‘Against to the ways of consumption’, saving the Grand Bazaar and keeping it alive should have been everybody’s common responsibility and duty. The chairman of the organization, Hasan Fırat, gave the following example in order to explain the ‘situation’ of the historic bazaar: ‘We don’t even have a d ean and tidy ladies’ room for a lady who buys a necklace for 25 thousand dollars … ‘ However, there are approximately three thousand six hundred shops and work places in the Grand Bazaar. In a day, an average of five hundred thousand people pass through the its twenty one gates. Even the smallest apartments have a ‘board of management’ and a ‘manager’ and they do all the deaning and reparation with the ‘fees collected from the residents and other donations’. So, why can’t there be such a management in the Grand Bazaar? The answer to this question was given by the participants who were the tradesmen of the Bazaar. Actually, the biggest problem of the Grand Bazaar is (none) solidarity … The owners of the stores, half of  which are rented, do not think about the fact that they are the users of histarical values at the same time. Moreover they stili don’t care about the idea that they need to provide the ‘contemporary necessities’ in order to compete with ‘modern’ shopping centers. The roof of the Bazaar is so ruined that most of its parts are irreparable. Histarical stone walls are about to loose their power to carry the weight because they get carved more and more by the store owners in order to ‘expand their stores’. Alterations and reparations are done by the ‘masters’ who are not experts on histarical structures and without permission.

While gold and silver workshops’ poisonous wastes threaten the base of the architecture, a relation between the same chemical waste and the collective death of pigeons is supposed. Modernity within histoıy So, what can be done in spite of all these problems? Although the devoted and faithful workers of the Grand Bazaar Assodation volunteer to solve the problems of this huge bazaar, considering the Association’s possibilities and status, for how long can they bear? At the day of the conference, as a solution to the need of an ‘organization’, establishing a ‘service company’, of which all the tradesmen will be a part, was considered. This company was going to manage all the necessıtıes such as deaning, security, reparation and arrangement of general places. The most significant goal was to bring the ‘contemporary attractiveness’ of the modern shopping centers to the Grand Bazaar. People go to huge modern malls not just for shopping but also for spending time and to color up their social and cultural lives. Imagine that pocket cinemas, art galleries, bookstores, cafes that make these goals possible exist in and around the Grand Bazaar, and yet in an unique histarical atmosphere .. . If our big brand names !ike Vakko and Beymen contributes to this proposal and the culture by opening one of their stores in the Grand Bazaar, what difference will it make if the entire İstanbul is full of those ‘shopping centers…

Oktay Eknci


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