What happened to the small shops in Nectar in a Sieve?

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When the men from the city came to the village with their families to build and work at the tannery, the small shops run by the villagers initially did very well. The newcomers had a lot of money, and the shops were able to charge high prices for their wares. The new money available to the shop owners and their families was useless, however, because prices of everything were raised so high. Soon, larger shops began to crop up, and the village shopkeepers found that they were "unable to compete with the other bigger shopkeepers whom the easy money to be had from the tanners had drawn to the new town." One by one, the small shops had to close, and their owners left the village with their families. The villagers were sad to see their unhappy neighbors leave, but the shopkeepers who remained were "glad that there was less competition." The failed shopkeepers and their families were mourned for awhile by their former neighbors, but eventually they were forgotten and life went on as before (Chapter 8).

The pattern of the demise of the small shops shows what often happens when industrialization and colonialization upset the natural balance of underdeveloped areas. The economic structure, which at first seems to be revitalized, is destroyed, as inflated prices offset more easily available money. Small shops, unable to compete with larger ones, eventually go out of business, leaving their owners without a means of meeting their needs and those of their families.

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