About 100 food stalls at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei will be moved from a nearby building back to a renovated location on the same street, but not everyone is happy with the Taipei City Government’s plan.
Speculation has been rampant in local media recently about changes to the Shilin Night Market, an iconic tourist attraction. Some predicted the market would completely lose its appeal if the city government relocated all the food vendors to the basement of the renovated building.
Hsu Hsuan-mou (許玄謀), vice director and spokesman of the Taipei City Market Administration Office, said the relocation plan would take effect in November, but it involved fewer vendors than reported in the media.
The city was planning to move 94 food stalls operating at a temporary establishment on Jihe Road to the renovated basement of a building on the same street where the vendors used to run their businesses, Hsu said.
The renovated building has a ground floor and three underground floors. Basement levels two and three will be a parking lot and the first basement level will house 94 food vendors, while the ground floor will be reserved for vendors selling other goods.
The 500 food vendors selling food on Dadong Road and nearby streets are not affected by the relocation.
The Shilin Night Market is bounded by Dadong Road, Jihe Road, Wenlin Road and Anping Street.
The city said the renovated building was air-conditioned and that the new, clean space could even improve business, but vendors are divided over the relocation.
A woman surnamed Chang (張), who has sold oyster omelets at the night market for more than 20 years, said she was not sure how the move would affect business.
“It’s just hard to say whether the relocation would be good or bad. For me, personally, I am willing to try to run my business in the basement,” she said.
“I would call it a ‘ground-breaking’ move to have night market vendors sell food in a basement, because no one has ever done that before [in Taiwan],” she added.
She said vendors had differing opinions. The owners of food stalls making a lot of money were reluctant to relocate, but vendors whose businesses were not doing very well wanted to try the new place, she said.
Another oyster omelet seller, whose family has been selling the delicacy since 1947, said the government usually ignored the opinion of market folk.
“What can we say about the relocation? The land belongs to the government, we either join the game or quit the business,” she said angrily.
A man surnamed Cheng (鄭), who runs a small stall selling noodles, said he supported the relocation.
“As long as the food is good, loyal customers are sure to come by, regardless of location,” he said.
However, he fears he won’t be able to move to the new building since the current location has 150 stalls, but only 94 spaces will be available in the new building.