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You may want to find a certain type of store—like a drugstore.  Do you know how to ask for what you need?  The format for these exercises are based on these sentences, and the answer you receive will fill in the blank.

Suggestions for types of shops are given, but add to the list as you become more acquainted with how the marketplace works.

What is a _____________ called?

Suggestions: Drugstore, Herbal medicine shop, Cloth shop, Grocery store, Stationery store, Bookshop, Etc.

Some items may not be found where you would find them in your home country!

Where would you go to purchase ______________________________

Suggestions: A flashlight (torch)? Men’s socks? Bath soap? Candles? Perfume? Shaving supplies?Women’s intimate apparel? Etc.

Are any of these shops located together in a, say, cloth market?  If so, do these types of markets have a special name?  Find out the names of specialty markets in your immediate locale, in your main center.  Are any of these chains, with stores throughout the country?  Are any of them internationally known?


Review material you already have gained about products obtained through agriculture, gathering, hunting, fishing, crafts, etc.

How do goods from another area arrive in your village or town–by truck, by plane, by bicycle, etc.? How are goods and produce from your area transported to market? Is this done by the producer or by a middleman?

Which of these are sold or traded to other villagers or neighborhood residents? Which and what amounts are sold or traded outside the area? To those of the same ethnic group or to those of a different group? Are the products sold directly to consumers or sold to middlemen?

Which items come from other villagers and which from outsiders? Do traders bring wares to the neighborhood, or do people make their purchases in town?

Chart out the economic relationships existing between your village or town and:

(1)    traders – who are they and what do they buy or sell?

(2)    other villages and towns in the area – does another town have goods that are not available in yours? How far does one have to travel to the next town or city?

(3)    a major city – is transport readily available? Is the trip a hassle or a fun occasion? Is it for the purpose of selling or buying? Is the trip usually successful?

(4)    international export – are products manufactured or grown in your area sold internationally? Are products from another country readily available where you live? Are such products desired by the local people?

What range of prices would various types of items be sold for? What has been the rate of inflation over the past two years? Have wages kept up with the cost of living?

How are business transactions conducted? Is there a sex differentiation in terms of commerce or services rendered?

Are items sold or bought for cash or credit? Who are the moneylenders? What are the terms of such a loan (time, interest rate, guarantee, etc.)? Are there pawn shops? What is the rate of indebtedness in the village? What happens when debts are not or cannot be repaid?

From whom can one borrow tools or articles? Is an item returned to the owner or must he go for it when he needs it?

Do people hire themselves out for wages? In the village? Outside the village? Is there a steady migration of people from rural areas into town seeking work? From what areas or ethnic groups do they come? What kind of work, if any, can they obtain?

Are outsiders hired by villagers? To which ethnic groups do they belong, what work do they do, and what are they paid?


This assignment explores proper etiquette for the giving and acceptance of gifts.

To whom would a person give a gift: relative, friend, neighbor, trading partner, headman, government official, etc.? On what occasion would a gift be given? Are these occasions determined by the calendar [as birthdays] or by the course of events [as encouragement for good work done]? What is the motive for giving: love, concluding a business deal, influencing a decision, building up goodwill, etc.?

What types of gifts are appropriate for various occasions? What kinds of gifts are given in exchange? How long a delay between the receiving and the giving of a return gift is within the limits of appropriate behavior? Is the gift related to the status of giver or recipient? In what ways? Be careful to distinguish between a true gift and payment for services rendered, especially when the latter had been delayed.

How does one acknowledge the receipt of a gift? When is it proper to open a gift? On receiving it? Later, when the giver has departed?

How much sharing of excess farm or garden produce is done in the village? What is said when giving and receiving something? Is an equivalent exchange expected?


Does your village, town, or city have a “downtown” area, that is, a main shopping center? Or are there big shopping centers scattered throughout? How far is it from where you live to one of these centers?

Is going to the mall or to a downtown area a special occasion? Do people dress more formally when they go? Do they go here for special reasons, like business or events, or do they sometimes go just to have a good time?

Are the shops under one roof? Situated on a main plaza? Located on a jumble of interconnected streets?

What kinds of shops are located in the center you have chosen? Are the same types of shops found in other centers, or does each center have a “specialty?” Is there more variety found downtown than in local shops?

Are any of these connected to a Western franchise? If so, how familiar does it look to you, and how much has been added in deference to the culture? Are the products of these international shops considered more prestigious than local items?

Are larger shops more frequented than the smaller neighborhood shops? How has the local economy been affected by the arrival of megashops?

Are there special venues for events located downtown, like the opera, musical programs, or plays? Would businesses have special events for their staff at downtown sites rather than at a local venue?



  • How far is the closest market or store where you can buy fruit and vegetables? meat? flour and sugar?
  • Find out how food items are sold—by the pound? by the dozen? by the kilo? by some other measure? Think of eggs, milk and other dairy products as well as meat, vegetables, and fruit. How are items packaged?
  • Are there supermarkets where everything is under one roof, or do you have to go to different stores for food items? Is there a farmers’ market with many vendors offering their produce or products? Is fresh produce sold in a different store than dry goods like flour and sugar?
  • Do you have to bring your own bags or are bags provided to carry your purchases home?
  • Are prices fixed or is there room to bargain? Does the type of shop determine this, as a kiosk on the street, an open shop, or a shop with an entry door? How is bargaining done?

For other items needed generally

Note: Going to a mall or to another central location for “fun” shopping will be covered in another assignment.

  • Do these same stores offer stationery items? textbooks? clothing? tablecloths? crockery? If not, where can you buy these types of things? How far are these stores? Are some of them locally run or are some run by a chain? Are the chain stores nationally run or from outside the country?
  • How are items packaged? Are some items sold separately and others packaged? Which ones?
  • Do stores selling the same thing tend to group together or are they scattered around the city? How many specialty stores, like department stores, hardware stores, or automotive stores are in your area? Do you have a choice or are your options limited?
  • Inquire as to what items can be bought at the hardware store in your area? the variety store? the department store? the medicine shop? the stationers? What are these shops called?
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