While Eldest and I were outing-and-abouting today, I finally got to see an outdoor market in our area. We've been living here for over 6 years now; it's the first time I've seen it and only the second time for Eldest - and that was 5 years ago! I keep hearing about how great this market is, but it's one day a week, starting mid-spring and only running through to the end of summer. They also open very early in the morning and are closed by mid-afternoon. I just haven't been able to make it, though I know people who visit it every week, waxing poetic about all the offerings.
I have a love/hate thing with markets.
On the one hand, I love how diverse they are. There are things you can buy in markets you won't find anywhere else. As a supporter of free enterprise and capitalism, I love that there are all these small entrepreneurs selling their wares, and want to support them in their endeavors.
This particular market has fresh produce, home baking and canning, jewelry, art, clothing and even wine. Several kiosks sold meat - elk, bison and grass fed beef were included, and another sold beef jerky. A few places were selling transplants and hanging baskets for the gardeners, with flowers, vegetables and herbs available. There were a couple of places shilling health food/supplements, and a couple of local restaurants had food available. Tables were set up in one area, where eaters could be entertained by buskers - a couple of guys were playing when we went by, and they were fantastic. I didn't have much cash on hand, but what I did have, I dropped into their guitar case. From what I saw already there, we weren't the only ones to appreciate their talent.
It has all the makings of what should be a wonderful morning.
And yet, I came out of there in a snarly mood.
Why? Well, as much as I like the diversity of vendors, it's getting to the point that whenever I see words like "organic" or "all-natural," I get a foul taste in my mouth. To me, the words scream of obnoxious pretentiousness. That and I can't help but feel sticking the label on their products (which included "fibres" and clothing, as well as food) is a convenient way to charge triple the price. I know it costs a lot to get organic certification, but sheesh!
Which leads me to my other problem with markets. I have a limited budget, but we are fortunate enough to have room for some extra luxuries. I don't mind spending more for greater value. However, much of what I saw that I might have wanted to check out more, I didn't dare, because I didn't have enough spare cash to buy anything. We passed a clearance bin of casual shirts (long sleeves t-shirts, I believe they were) labelled $40 each. If that's the clearance price, I won't want to know what the regular price is! I've got a pair of tuxedo shirts that cost less than that. Both of them together. I mentioned how I increasingly feel the "organic" labels come across as pretentious, but some of these kiosks didn't have those labels, but still screamed "pretentious" so loudly, I didn't feel comfortable walking past them, never mind pausing to look at their wares. It felt like going to an event in jeans and a t-shirt and discovering it was black tie.
But maybe that's just me.
I am not actually complaining about their prices. Vendors can charge whatever they need to and feel the market can bare, and clearly there are lots of people willing to pay those prices. It's just that, going to markets and not being able buy much of anything really puts me in a foul mood. It's not like we're broke or anything. I could have bought all sorts of things - but doing so would either wreck our budget, or eat into the funds we've got set aside for our road trip. Not only do I hate going to markets and not be able to buy things for budgetary reasons, I feel bad for the vendors seeing people walk past their kiosks and not buying. For a lot of these vendors, this market is where they make their money for the year. I want to support them and feel bad not being able to.
Overall, though, the wares available were really interesting, and I did enjoy seeing them. Well.... Seeing as much of them as I could. Which leads me to my main problem with markets.
You know how, when you're walking through a mall, you get stuck behind someone who's shambling along slowly, taking up half the aisle, blocking the way and forcing everyone behind them to slow down to a crawl? Then when you see an opening, you quickly dash around them before it closes up again?
Well, that's what we had to do. Unfortunately, we kept having to dash around people so often, we never quite got to slowing down to a normal pace. I started to get a crick in my neck from rubbernecking at the displays as we squeezed our way through the crowd (and this was a relatively sparse crowd, due to the chilly weather). Before we knew it, we'd raced from one end of the market to the other, then were racing back again down the other side. We tried to pause and look around - at one point I even picked up some smokies so we could sit, eat and listen to the buskers (just in time for them to stop for the day... oh well! *L*). Once we were done eating, it was right back to rushing through the crowd.
Now, I do understand people wanting to walk slowly. They're shopping. They're looking at things. There were quite a few people in walkers or wheelchairs, or walking with canes. No problem. What gets me are the people, or groups of people, who saunter along in the middle, or weave back and forth from one side to the other, cutting people off and blocking the way. Could they at least saunter on one side or the other, not in the middle or back and forth? There was one woman wandering slowly along, weaving from one side to the other with every step. Anywhere else, and she would have appeared inebriated. I tried going around her several times, only to have her weave right back into me. Eldest finally saw an opening and sped up to go around when her ankle give out because she'd stepped into the gutter and the pavement tilted unexpectedly. Just as I was about to ask if she was okay, the same thing happened to me! Neither of us were hurt, thankfully. Then there was the guy we got stuck behind while he shambled along, head down as he texted while he walked. I swear, it was worse than trying to get through a Zombie Walk!
By the time we'd seen the entire market, I was in a crappy mood and glad to get away. As if that weren't enough, there was a chilly breeze. The temperature was fine - comfortably cool to walk in - but the breeze was just enough to bother my ears. For me, that means an ear ache and sudden head rushes. At one point Eldest looked at me and told me I looked terrible! *L* When we had the chance, we went indoors and continued our wandering there. Though it was only a few blocks from home, I ended up calling Dh for a ride to avoid making it worse. It's been several hours, and my head still feels wonky, though the head rushes have stopped.
It should have been an enjoyable day. I love wandering around with Eldest, checking things out and just talking about whatever comes up. I keep thinking I'd love to go back to this market when I have some spare funds to actually buy something (like some of that beef jerky!), but then I think of just how much worse the crowds are on a day that isn't so cold and damp.
Maybe markets just aren't my thing.