DTES Street Market on Sunday Oct 27, 2013
Very well attended Street Market before Hallowe’en brought out the fun in everyone in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)
Roland Clarke says:
It was an amazing Sunday for October. The sun was out and the vendors were happy and out in great numbers. Normally we see a marked decline in the number of vendors right after a welfare Wednesday, and this Sunday, we actually got more vendors than we did the week before. This is almost certainly due to the great weather. I remember hearing on the radio that if Sunday was rain free, it would be the longest rain free spell in October in Vancouver history. I think we missed it because of a brief shower at 6am.
The Kindness of Vendors
Today, as last week, I was really struck by what an amazing thing this Street Market has become. Over 150 vendors, packed into the smallest urban park in Vancouver, and very few fights, very few incidents or altercations. Again, this morning, I had a number of vendors be very accommodating when we asked them to move. It is as if the importance of the market really has filtered down through the culture of the vendors in a way that we did not anticipate. In other ways, I saw great generosity from the vendors. If a customer clearly did not have the money for an item, more than once, I saw a vendor just offer it to the person, or discount it to a dollar. It is this that is also an amazing essence of the market. It is survival vending, and if a vendor feels that they have ‘made enough’ that day, then they can be very generous. The idea, of course, is that the customer may be a vendor to them in the future, and they will receive a benefit from this increased social capital. This is also something that is so missing from the box stores and malls that we have built around us. With the store clerks that are travelling miles to work, and the customers that park en mass in the cold underground parking, we lose that sense of community. The sense that commerce really is the origin of community. The market square IS the origin of the town, and that is the origin of a sense of belonging and neighbourhood. We need this kind of personal interaction with each other, and we need to feel that we are interacting with our neighbors. We need the feeling that the person across the counter is part of our community, and that her/his hard work makes them deserving of the little price increase that they receive by cleaning up the item, or knowing all about it, or telling you a story about it. There is something so genuinely human about this level of interaction and it transcends language, ideology and race. It is something magical that creates a feeling of belonging, and it exists at the Pigeon Park Street Market.