What is it about the Marketplace?
When you talk to some people, the marketplace will have the stigma that it is a place for the lower “classes” to mix. Others will say that there is only cheap junk!
Why does something so special have such a poor image?
Marketplaces have been around since we worked out how to gather one product and sell it to others in a location that people would congregate in.
Sure as time went on those meeting places got more luxurious, but the products and produce remained the same.
When I stood in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and looked at how the stall traders were trading in a place dating back to 1455, I couldn’t but wonder what was being traded back then.
Today, beautiful lamps, fantastic rugs, food and more are sold to nearly 250 000 people a day!
When I stood in the Egyptian Spice market and wondered around in the amazing atmosphere. Looking at spice brought to one location for customers to buy. To see expensive precious pure oils on display and to smell and enjoy the atmosphere, I couldn’t but help to think why anyone might not think a market was anything other than the perfect place to visit.
If I walk into a supermarket, with its flouresant lighting and all the identical products on the shelves, with people who walk about like zombies, devoid of enthusiasm for their products, it feels like we are losing something very special.
It’s not over Yet!
I have in recent years seen a resurgence in the marketplace though. Where you can buy fresh locally grown produce from the local farmer, or taste homemade food that was prepared that day using the best ingredients.
The bespoke market has made a come back too. Where artistic creations are on display to adorn your home with imaginative works of art.
The food is made, not to stuff your belly, but to overload your senses with beautiful displays and wonderful tastes.
The local farmers market has also made a resurgence in local neighbourhoods on Saturdays and Sundays. Even the folks that run these events take pride in making sure they are advertised and using people who are enthusiastic about their products.
The supermarket will always have a place in our society, but the marketplace is really the more important place that we ought to support. Local people with local products. Creative artists and skilled artisans.
Why buy a piece of art from a supermarket that has been reproduced a 1000 times, when you can get a handmade item from the marketplace and interact with the artist.
It seems ludicrous that the marketing machines that spin the marketplace as a poor place to attend have done such a great job, of destroying our once famous places for meeting and enjoying other people and other cultures.
It creates Diversity
In a world that needs diversity, the marketplace offers that. It is a place for passing traders to show off what they have brought from far away places.
The supermarket has done this so well that we can eat fruit and veg any time of the year and try spices from different countries whenever we want.
Of course that makes our lives easier, but the marketplace can bring new tastes from far away places, even from the next town or village!
It can bring new artists and allow creative musicians to play to even more attentive ears, promoting their work and their careers.
The diversity in the people attending allows us to see people as they are on a ‘normal’ day. They are going about their business, they are buying foods they need, they are displaying their beliefs and talking their languages.
We are becoming aware the world needs to be more inclusive and that relates not only to the local folks, but also to the folks passing through. There is a transferral of knowledge and understanding. We all learn by example and being in a place where that example can be witnessed is the best place for inclusion to exist.
Of Course There are Bad Markets!
I would be naive to say there were only good markets. Foolish to believe every market is a winner and everyone aims to be creative and inclusive.
That is not the case, and I have been to a few markets that I found to be awful and reckless.
Selling cheap reproduced plastic phone covers or unsafe and uncertified batteries that may cause serious burns is irresponsible! I know that, and you know that.
There are shops that exist to serve those products and that, I do not feel, provides the real marketplace with the best image. If you have attended one of those markets as either a customer or as a creative trader, I really feel for you.
Please do not think they are all like that and try another market somewhere else. Even if you have to travel a bit on public transport or take a lift. You’ll be amazed at the great work some market managers do to create wonderful market atmosphere. (You can listen to the Walkerville Farmer’s Market Podcast to hear how Gary, the manager, even tries to encourage people to start stalls.)
If you were scammed or feel that the market place was poor, I hope you told all your friends and family about it. Through word of mouth that will change the marketplace and either force the owners to re-evaluate what they are doing or close down.
A Note on Pricing
You have the power to vote with your feet. Your buying power will change who thrives and who cannot continue. Your creative products can only be valued in a place where you see value and are valued too!
As we begin to appreciate the marketplace once again, and see how beautiful and creative people are, we will also appreciate the prices that are charged for not only a product but for the experiences and fun.
You are very rarely charged an entrance fee for a market. The marketplace takes that fee from the traders that are present.
Yet you are entertained, your senses are heightened and you are able to socially engage in a place where you feel some security. That right there adds to a slightly higher cost per item.
You would expect no less from any other place you visited!
If you think about the items you would purchase from a supermarket that you will either have bought on a 2 for 1 offer only to throw away one, or where you would have been enticed to over indulge in some over processed food, you will really see the value in the produce a market produces.
Of course there are some exceptions, but you can vote with your money by not buying from people who are trying to charge more than something is worth. Be proactive – YOU HAVE A CHOICE!
The marketplace is an experience to enjoy and to benefit from. It offers new and exciting ideas and provides a platform for local people.
Embrace your marketplace, become a part of it. Enjoy your time out with friends and family, as well as trying, tasting and appreciating something new