Profits from Protest: Street Vendors Flock To Baghdad For Demonstrators’ Business
The regular popular demonstrations being held in Baghdad every Friday are not just good for the country’s democracy, they’re proving an invaluable business opportunity for vendors of street food, water and coffee and trinkets.
Business is so good in fact, that Iraqis like Jawad Rabee have come all the way from Dhi Qar province to sell water bottles. Rabee says that back home he usually sells water at military checkpoints where people have to queue to get through. But he thought that the demonstrations in the capital would be a good opportunity to do better business.
He was right: On an ordinary day Rabee says he would have sold about 25 boxes of water bottles – so around 300 bottles. Now every Friday he goes to Tahrir Square in central Baghdad and sells around 1,500 bottles. With the profit he makes from one Friday, he can survive all week.
“I leave the hotel where I am now staying about three hours before the start of the demonstration,” Rabee explains his method. “I fill the cart with water boxes and I buy ice to keep them cool.”
Most of the vendors plying their trade at the demonstrations do not live in Baghdad. And they all have to work hard to make a living. Police close the streets around five hours before the demonstrations and many of the vendors with big carts enlist the aid of other sellers, who collect water bottles from them, then sell them all from smaller boxes before returning for more. They also store their goods in yards near Tahrir Square so they can return there for more stock.