Fagatogo Market in American Samoa

The Fagatogo Market is a brand new market that was built with government funds under President George W. Bush. It was officially opened a few years ago but has never really been used for some reason. It is also a point of frustration for some local American Samoans. It was over budget and scaled way down from the original plans.

What I do know is what is done is pretty nice. It is probably the nicest market in the South Pacific. It is clear that the construction of the Fagatogo Market was given more thought than many of the market in the region such as the Nadi Market in the Republic of Fiji.

Personally, I believe the reason that it goes largely unused is more about the policies of the government more than anything else. I have no idea what the governing agencies demands of the farmers to use the market. It could also be true to location and shopping habits of American Samoans. Fagatogo is in the middle of the island and most of the shopping locations are in the western side of American Samoa.

Shopping at Fagatogo Market

There is really four areas in the market right now: fruit section, shops, eateries and fish section. Each of them seems to be pretty much apart from the rest of the others.

The fruit sellers are in the open area and they sell a group of banana for a dollar or two. It depends how big the pile is. There is always at least a few farmers down there selling their produce. The bananas are not always from American Samoa though. Many of them are being imported from (Western) Samoa. It is not exactly “buying local.”

To the left is the shops that are selling traditional Samoans clothes and different non-food things. I think there is three shops over there if I remember correctly. In my experience, they are seriously overpriced but they still do get some locals willing to spend the money to buy some special dress for a culture event.

The back of the building has 4 or so eateries that sell cheap meals to the people coming to get some fruit and fish. I do not remember prices. They are like hole in the wall canteens in the Philippines. They just have a few dishes made and you pick what you want and pay the price they are asking for it. In all cases, it is quite cheap.

On the back corner is a clean, air conditioned room that fish sellers use for their product. You can buy any fish you would want there. They do seem to have a pretty good selection. It is best to come around 10 in the morning to get the fish that just came in from that morning’s trip.

The frustrations of the Farmers

According to them, they are promised that the Fagatogo Market would be completely air conditioned and it was going to be two stories among other things. It was scaled back and scaled back to the budgets. In their eyes, it was the local politicians stealing the money by overpricing contracts. This is not beyond a possibility as the former Lt. Governor was arrested by the FBI a few years for doing that very thing.

Everything related to construction in American Samoa seems to be very expensive, it is not just the Fagatogo Market. This is partly due to the cost of supplies (the extreme sales tax on island doesn’t help!) but the profit margins some local construction companies want to have is out of line.  

The frustration around Fagatogo Market will continue because the government of American Samoa will not do anything about it unless there is something to benefit the politicians directly. In other words, the farmers are the victims of a cat and mouse game of politics on the island.

Area around Fagatogo Market

There is more than just the market in the area though. There is a shopping center that just across a grass field known as Fagatogo Square. It has some government offices in it but there is also a coffee house, restaurant, a pest control company, a small department store and Western Union.

Across the street from this building is the High Court of American Samoa, a supermarket, a travel agency and the United States Post Office. To the other direction is the McDonalds that is in “downtown.”

It is true that Tafuna has more to offer like Cost U Less, the basic needs are met in the Fagatogo that you would rarely need to go to the western district unless using the PX on the Army Reserve base.


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