This article was written for Fethiye Times by Sian Midgley.

For this month’s article I thought I’d write about the plight of the small corner shops in Fethiye and how they’ve been coping during these testing times. So off I went to see Ömer Faruk Abacı from the Defne Market just around the corner from me in Tuzla, taking my friend Laura who had kindly set up the interview. I went armed with a box of tissues and a suitably sympathetic expression on my face preparing to hear about how tough things had been, how his family were barely getting by, how he’d resorted to selling his mother in law just so he could afford to feed and clothe his wife and two daughters.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong….

Ömer has a cousin in Essex who runs a barber shop and an aunt in London who runs a kebab shop so entrepreneurial blood runs through his veins. Not to be outdone, he opened Defne Market ten years ago and has been going strong ever since, now employing two assistants.

A Success Story

His story of success during the pandemic is not a common one within the corner shop business so how exactly has he managed to not only survive but thrive over the last six months? The answer is actually very simple – he sells everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, that a person could need or want to keep their family fed, clean and happy. Just imagine if Aladdin’s Cave and the Tardis had had a child – that child would have looked exactly like the Defne Market. He sells all sorts of food items from avocados to yoghurt and all the alphabet in between, as well as cleaning materials and much, much more. Add to that the fact that he takes the Covid 19 required precautions very seriously and, voila, you have an environment that feels safe and fulfills your needs.

Because of this his customer base has expanded to include people that used to be quite happy to shop in the bigger supermarkets but now want to reduce their exposure to large numbers of strangers. Ömer has been so busy that he didn’t even have the time to offer home delivery services during lockdown like some of the smaller markets. He also has a great command of the English language, useful for his ever expanding foreign clientele who can never remember if çilek means flower or strawberry, or if havuç means carrot or swimming pool. (Disclaimer: he does not sell swimming pools…but probably has a relative who does).

Internet Fame

Another measure of his success is that Google recently contacted him to ask for pictures of the market, some of which are included in this article, because in the space of just one month there has been over 6,000, yes that’s right 6,000, Google searches for Defne Market. This staggering statistic has also led to Ömer being approached by Ege TV in İzmir which has resulted in a seven minute interview that will be shown on seven different TV channels in the next month or so. I guess his new lucky number is seven!

What’s Next?

So what does the future hold for Ömer and Defne Market? Well, for a start he doesn’t think customer numbers will ever go back down to pre virus levels. He has every intention of running the market for at least another fifteen years – maybe even opening another one, who knows? After that he plans to sell or rent it out to help fund what will no doubt be a very comfortable and well deserved retirement. As for me, well I’m just happy that this article has resulted in such a feel good story – just what we need at the moment, don’t you agree?

If you want to pop in to Defne Market for a bit of shopping, here’s the location for you.