Ibrahim’s shop

Lots of Lebanese (like myself) remember the days when most of the daily’s veggies and fruits were bought from a cart vendor passing by; my grandmother would lower her basket, get the merchandise (basket was reeled to the fourth floor), inspect it, then negotiate a price with the merchant below. 

It seems that these street cart vendors are now a relic of the past; a few are still left scattered about the city in some neighborhoods but they are mostly shooed away by the municipality and store owners who do not want the extra competition.

Ibrahim, a true survivor, came up with a  plan to sell his produce; he set up his cart inside the courtyard of an abandoned mansion, and managed to form a clientele of nearby residents or visitors; his prices  are unbeatable. Last time I peeked, I got several bags of juicy oranges for 10 cents a pound. He will sell you three bunches of vibrant-looking purslane for 15 cents. Etc.

The hand-painted sign says “Borrowing forbidden” but Ibrahim does let people borrow occasionally.

Some days, you can get some really cool stuff in his shop; I will show you in a couple of days what I got.

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  1. Posted June 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    That is so cool, you just gotta love those local vendors that won’t give up! Can’t wait to see what cool things that you got!

  2. Posted June 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Wow – how cool! Gorgeous fruit – how lovely to have a neighborhood shop like this!

  3. Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    That does seem like an ancient way to sell… except for the milk crates! Too bad it isn’t done up a little better, but then the prices would go up. Are there many abandoned mansions in town?

  4. Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I love this post. The story of your grandmother is charming and I love the story of Ibrahim! I’ll bet shopping from him is wonderful! I love the photos!

  5. Joumana
    Posted June 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    @Deana: Not many, all the old mansions get demolished and replaced by tall buildings, which is a crime in my opinion, because it is fast destroying the soul of Beirut, a city with thousands of years of history.

  6. Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    On peut dire qu’il a sut faire son….trou, bisous et belle journée

  7. Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    I remember when Korea would have these little carts, too. I think they still have street vendors like that in a little more rural places.

    What does it mean by “no borrowing?” You get fruit and produce from the vendors and pay him back later?

  8. Joumana
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    @sophia: Exactly!

  9. Posted June 18, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    So lovely, it brings such happy memories of my home, Turkey too – we still have street food vendors at my hometown, Antioch :)
    I just posted home made Turkish delights, and thought you may have a look, would love to know what you think of them – they came out really well!:)
    best wishes,

  10. Posted June 18, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Good for him! He got creative. And lucky for you, too. Hope the store owners don’t gang up on him.

  11. Posted June 26, 2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    My husband tells me stories of his childhood summers in Sicily… they used the basket on a rope system too. I love hearing about these old traditions.

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