This little shop, if you could really call it a shop, cuts keys and that’s about it. As you can see, it’s also configured for night-time trading. The shop owner wheels it out on a small trolley from his doorway onto the footpath each morning, and wheels it away again at the end of the night.
Every single street in Shanghai has a pop-up key cutter like this, as well as a pop-up mending shop (a treadle sewing machine on a trolley) and a pop-up bicycle repair shop. Usually there are also two or three pop-up cigarette sellers and a few random pop-ups, like the lady outside the entrance to Fuxing Park who sells batteries on odd days and slippers on even days. It’s so convenient to be able to get my batteries and slippers on the way home from the park.
They all represent a kind of street-level micro-commerce that used to be common in the west until it was regulated out of existence. Bring back the street vendors! They give the city so much life and character. Can you imagine never having to walk more than fifty metres to get your keys cut or your trousers re-hemmed?