Bangkok's rich hawk luxury goods for cash

Mon Sep 14, 2009 5:33am EDT
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By Papitchaya Boonngok

BANGKOK (Reuters Life!) - The dire economy is making even the super-rich thrifty in Thailand, where a flea market has been set up to sell luxury assets ranging from cars to plots of land for those in need of extra cash.

Officially named "The Market of the Formerly Rich", the downtown bazaar operates out of a Mercedes Benz showroom and has attracted dozens of wealthy hawkers keen to palm off their copious belonging.

"I have a lot of businesses so when the economy is bad, it effects my business. So I decided to collect cash," said Jiraporn Keawtanan, who has put up her antique collection of silverware and enamelware for sale.

"I don't know what will happen in the future so I decided to bring all these things to sell," added the owner of a restaurant, beauty parlour and antique shop.

Wasant Pothipimpanon, a Mercedez-Benz dealer, founded the market in 1997 when Thailand was hit hard by the Asian economic crisis. The market stayed open for one year and was popular with rich Thais trying to survive the crisis.

The current economic situation, coupled with calls from rich clients, spurred Wasant to reopen the market in August, although he says people are not as badly affected this time round.

"Most Thai businesses are not as badly hit as they were in 1997," he said. "But banks are not willing to lend money now, so everyone is stuck."

Thailand expects the economy to show growth in the fourth quarter, expanding by about 3.4 percent compared to a year earlier. But for the full year, the economy will still contract by about 3.5 percent.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)