Gorgeous Warm weather during Sunday Street Market had vendors and peer workers of the DTES Street Market Society enjoying a festival atmosphere in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)
Roland Clarke, Coordinator says:
Solidarity in Vending
The weather was awesome. Perhaps the last great day of the year, it was almost summer again. A great break from the two Sundays of rain we just survived.
There is a subject that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time, and it is a subtle, but important one. The subject is why we, as coordinators of the market actually spend a portion of the day selling things ourselves.
During the day, I, Roland spend a lot of the day selling coffee and pop to raise money for the market. Also, Jacek sells 50/50 raffle tickets. Between these two activities (and the renting of tents and tables) we manage to raise more than $200 per week on average that can help pay for street market incidentals. This allows us to fund experiments, like bannock and muffin sales, and also buy new tents and tables when they get broken. Having petty cash on hand is extremely valuable, and we couldn’t run the market without it. We also provide on average about $500 in change to shoppers that come in with $20 bills and need smaller denominations. This way the vendors also do not need to keep so much cash on hand.
There is an additional, very important reason that the organizers of a grass roots street market should themselves engage in survival vending. This is because it is an essential statement of solidarity with the vendors we are trying to organize and build community. We recognize that life is hard, and all the rest of the vendors must scrounge for ways to hustle and survive at the market, so we do it too. We have to find a way to sell coffee for $1, and still make a profit. We then provide this benefit to the community in the form of cheap beverages, which the vendors are happy to purchase from us. It is in this way that we have inserted ourselves into the ecosystem instead of just trying to manage it from above. This builds trust, it cements solidarity, and it allows us to understand and relate to the struggles of the population that we are trying to protect.
This is why we vend.
This is why we must continue to vend to keep the spirit of the market pure.