Snapshots of Small Shops

11 07 2012

With nearly 90 percent of Cambodia’s employment being informal (according to the ILO), I thought I would try to document some of the small, informal businesses in our town. These are the places where we get our bikes fixed, buy tools, sip teas or have our clothes made. These little shops, and their workers, are a big part of our lives since there are no box stores to run to when we need a few things. So, here you have it: the shops of Kampong Kdey.


These snack stands have become a daily stop for us. We generally opt for either a cold tea, a coconut, or a Pepsi Twist. After sampling all of the packaged snacks available in our town, we decided none of them are worth eating, meaning we usually limit ourselves to beverages only. Generally, there’s a four or five year old selling the cigarettes and booze.


Below is a bike shop where we, you guessed it, get our bikes fixed from time to time. All in all, I’ve been very pleased with how well my Peace Corps-issued bike has worked. I’ve very rarely needed to take it in but when I do, these guys take care of it.


This is Tim’s barber shop. The man pictured is usually the one to give Tim a trim, but often there’s a younger guy with the big, Korean-pop-star-style-hair looking at himself in the mirror too.


This is one of dozens of phone shops in our town. It’s a little embarrassing how often we visit these shops. Not only do they sell the phone cards we need for our pay-as-you-go cell phones, but they also exchange money and sell Internet credit. This means we end up stopping by one of these shops every couple of days. Luckily, there are enough of them that we don’t have to keep coming back to the same people all the time.


This men’s tailor works at his house. Because he lives near us, I see him virtually every day. He works from sunup till sundown, barely pausing to eat, which is a real shame because the food at their house is spectacular. The tailor lives with a young girl named Lucy, whose smile and “hello” are generally a highlight of my day.


This is the closest thing to a department store as we have at site. Although this particular shop specializes in woven baskets, you can see it also has strings of shampoo, soap, cooking oil and other essentials. Don’t let the mobile phone umbrella fool you though — they do not sell phone cards.


This is the only printer/copy shop we have right in town so it’s where we come to print off all of our forms for Peace Corps and any classroom materials we might need. Although the Cambodian classroom does not rely heavily on printed materials, it’s a nice surprise to bring the students a study guide or handout at no-cost to them. Usually, students have to reimburse teachers (and then some) for printing things, in part because printing costs are quite high.


Plus, check out some more photos I took of site this week.





One response

12 07 2012
Barbara Muller

Thank you for taking these pictures. It gives an idea of the surroundings you live in your town.

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