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While in Guangzhou, China, last year, I visited one of the largest wholesale fabric markets in the world – the Zhongda Fabric Market. I discovered that, like most other business matters in Guangzhou, the Chinese like to do things on a massive scale. The sheer size of this place was breathtaking – covering about 50,000 square metres of floor space.

Entrance to Zhongda Fabric Market

Spread over 7 floors and divided into four different areas (covering fur, fabric, trimmings and curtain/home textiles), the market is more like a small city. The constant buzz of activity was incredible.

A view from within the market

The stores inside the market display pre-cut and labelled fabric swatches, which are free and you can take as many as you like (compare this to most other fabric stores where you need to request the swatches individually, and the stores usually limit the number of free swatches you can take). Once an order for fabric is placed, the store will call its off-site warehouse to deliver the fabric to the shop – usually within the hour.

Swatches, swatches everywhere

Sample fabric

The ground floor of the market opens out onto the main street, and mini vans and rickshaws dodge pedestrians as they deliver rolls of fabric to the shop fronts.

For foreign buyers, there are dedicated staff within the market to assist with import/export issues, foreign currency, translation and the like. During the Canton Fair, there is a free shuttle service between the market and the Fair.

Have you visited any of the wholesale markets in China? I’d love to hear about your experience.