City Markets – Leather Market

Napier road is one of the busiest roads in Karachi. So much so that we are struggling to open the door fearing that it will hit a bike or a pedestrian fighting for space on crowded road. We somehow manage to pull the trick. It’s a Saturday noon and still early by Karachi standards. We negotiate our way to the Leather Market which is a little walk from Nigar Cinema where we get off our Careem.

Leather Market is on Ghulam Shah street which runs parallel to Napier road for a little stretch. It is part of Juna Bazaar which consists of several smaller specialty markets. We are there to meet our host, Junaid of Essential Element, who represents new generation of traders operating in age of Instagram. Junaid has been inviting photographers to document Leather market as is now. He tells us that the market used to be much bigger and livelier. Merchants from Middle East thronged the market and bought leather amongst other purchases from Juna Market during their business trips. He shows us Nadri Hotel where traveling businessmen stayed. The building has been abandoned for many years now except for the ground floors which has been converted into shops. The tiles on the floor are the only hint of what the hotel interior would have looked like. Did anyone ever take photos of its interior? How did the area look like? We will never get to know for it is shrouded by nostalgia now. A distant memory.

Junaid has been attached with his shop since childhood. He has known most of the shopkeepers all his life. His enthusiasm is contagious but other shopkeepers seem bit confused on how documentation can help. The market has witnessed a lot of difficult years when violence put customers away forcing shopkeepers to rely on other channels for selling their goods. A lot of customers still shy away from visiting the market due to the security concerns, despite them being a thing of past now. Junaid is hoping to change it with young generation talking about it positively.

We walk from one end of Ghulam Shah street to another. The shops are decorated with hides displaying them prominently. Some of the shops deal in different sizes of patches. Junaid has been helping his friends display merchandise in more effective way and most of them have been listening and trusting his judgement. These traders have been listening to a lot of claims and promises for decades. Maybe it is time to hear their own and help each other reach next level.

Categories: City Shopping

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