Today I visited the Zagreb construction fair; I went to this same fair last year as well so I was curious to compare the two as well as progress in general.
If there was one word to describe this fair this year it would be “quite” and I think there was two factors that contributed to it. First that it is scheduled all week (Tuesday- Saturday) instead of Fri-Sunday that it was last year and that it coincides with the week after Easter and the Croatia Boat fair in Split. While I do not think it will affect the presenters that much as they are running their staff anyways and prospective buyers and dealmakers are going to go there anyways but the little guys who rely on the general public will really feel the pinch, it might pick up on the weekend but it is really boring to see just suits running around making big deals and everyone else just twiddling their thumbs for a week. Commercialism is here to stay but so does the divide of haves and have not-so-much even in this micro cosmos of building materials and trade.
One other noticeable difference was that the amount of money companies are starting to spend, the laptop displays are replaced with large plasma TVs and advertisers that were passing out flyers on roller-blades last year are now equipped with Segways. This may still be Eastern Europe and forever will be geographically but with all the building boom that is taking place this is starting to look like a gold rush from local, regional and international companies all trying to get a bite of this pie that it is kind of reminding me of the southeast Asian boom years of the 1990’s when I was over in Thailand, though it is here on a somewhat smaller scale given this market size and population is incredibly smaller.
The growing number of construction cranes in the Zagreb skyline and new houses being built are a good idea of the growing demand for building materials. I used to be mocked when I first came here 8 years ago and would tell people here that the best was just to come and Croatian was a “buy stock” so to speak, now it is very obvious by the amount of SUVs in the parking and international presence at fairs like this one that Croatia is an important market and the growing amount of “haves” want the best and are willing to pay top dollar for it.
Money can’t buy you happiness, it’s true, but it can buy you a new home and as a new country I feel that there are still people who are looking for that, sire there are those who just want a bigger and better one for no reason but there are still enough people without the basics that I feel this fair serves a good purpose in that it drives competition and prices down so that the hard working man can get a “better bang for his buck” or should I say “kuča for his kuna”. The amount of window companies and roofing tiles are just one example, from the traditional clay tiles to recycled plastic to stamped out coated sheet tin, in every shape and color imaginable you almost think we are talking about luxury goods but it is just roofing that every house needs, there are so many types and prices and dealers that you really need take your time but in the end this provides a fabulous place to find killer deals for every imaginable housing need without having to call and visit all the dealers individually and I do not see why there are not more private people here looking, I guess they are all at work being a weekday, and that is the unfortunate truth. Only the rich survive, and get good deals.