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    Cornering the market

    By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-08 07:55
    Customers select desserts at the newly opened Hello Mart in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

    A Beijing food emporium is a relaxed retail space modeled along European lines that offers up a little bit of everything necessary for daily life, Li Yingxue reports.

    It seems that the world's most livable cities all have their own iconic markets-from London's Borough Market, Barcelona's Mercat de La Boqueria, to Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market. These places often reflect the true spirit of urban life with their down-to-earth hustle and bustle.

    Liu Xiangheng views a market as a kind of gift box: No matter what's inside, there's always something new and surprising. Liu has spent the past five years visiting hundreds of markets around the world, big and small, seeking inspiration before setting up one of his own in Beijing.

    And now he's done just that. Located in the capital's embassy area, 300 meters away from Liangmaqiao subway station, Liu's new market project, Hello Mart, is an artistically designed 7,000-square-meter indoor retail space offering a little bit of everything necessary for daily life.

    "The history of markets in China can be traced back to 3,000 years ago, where they were used to trade one commodity for another before currency was invented," says Liu.

    Five years ago, Liu visited a market called Eataly in Germany which impressed him with its rich mix of restaurants, food and beverage counters, bakeries, retail areas-and even a cookery school. What touched him most was how relaxing it felt to wander around the space.

    "The exact same model is not suitable for China, so I continued to explore more markets in Europe to find something ideal," Liu says. "My aim is to create a space where people can enjoy the slow pace of life with no pressure."

    England's Borough Market impressed Liu the most with its vast space and mix of performers, artists, antiques and delicious food, which takes at least a day to explore.

    Another spot that impressed Liu is Pike Place Market in Seattle, United States, home to the first Starbucks outlet in the world.

    "The process of wandering through a market makes me feel happy. I can communicate with different people and see their lives," says Liu. "I want people in Beijing to have the kind of place where they can take time to wander around aimlessly, and maybe select ingredients and watch the process of cooking.

    "Life is not just about work, the internet, eating and sleeping."

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