Many people have their own stories to tell about the Savalalo market.
For National University of Samoa student, Roy Leu, it was more than just a building.
Before Mr. Leu went to his afternoon class yesterday, he had to make sure he made that regular stop at the market to see what everyone was talking about.
“It wasn’t what I expected,” said Mr. Leu. “It’s nothing like how I remembered it.”
The student described the market as the “hangout” place for students from around Upolu.
“We eat here, we wait for our bus on that corner we basically stop here whenever you want to go anywhere on the island,” said Mr. Leu.
“This is the place where many workers and students like me would stop in the morning before going to school.
“We have our cup of coffee here when our bus arrives early and hangout. The prices on everything are reasonable that you don’t get that price in any other store in Apia. They sell yummy banana pancakes at an affordable price and if you know the shopkeeper they would give you extra pancakes for free.”
Mr. Leu said the market was where he would come with his friends to buy $1.50 pork buns and a homemade juice for just .50sene.
“I look at what is left and I think of all those stall owners that would greet us with smiles everyday,” said Mr. Leu.
“It wasn’t just a market to me. It was a place where we would get shelter from the sun and rain, a place to eat the cheapest food in town and where most tourists would go to buy our very own handicrafts.”
However, the student remains positive hoping that a better and safer building will arise from the ashes of the old flea market.
“I can only pray for the small businesses and their families that lost everything in the fire.”
Even the tourists that spent some time in the market shopping on Saturday could not believe the news.
Linatama Keni Viliua and Lily Makaneti from Niue residing in New Zealand were at the scene yesterday taking a last look at the place.
“We were one of the last people at the market on Saturday afternoon doing our last minute shopping,” said Mrs. Viliua. “It was such a beautiful place. We bought some shirts and I even took some pictures of the market on that day because I couldn’t stop admiring all the neat handicrafts and clothing but it’s all gone now.”
Mrs. Makaneti on the other hand said before she left the market on Saturday she could smell something strong from the other side where the To’oa Salamasina hall is.
“I could smell gas from that distance,” she said.
“Not long after we got home we heard from my relatives that the market was burnt down…I just couldn’t believe. The shopkeepers and stall owners were welcoming and I had hoped I would finish my shopping today.”
Before they left the scene they decided to take a picture to remember the market they would describe as beautiful.
Another father, Luamanuvae Niko Amituanai had his story to tell about the market.
Recalling the past, Luamanuvae said the market used to sell taro and other produces before the Fugalei market was established.
“This was a place where the farmers used to sell their produce before it was turned into a bigger flea market,” said Luamanuvae.
“I have so many memories of this market…this was the main trading center for families and small businesses. Its sad especially for the people affected.”