The Enduring Appeal of the Market

Where-CamdenThere is something wholesomely appealing about market shopping. Obviously there are markets and markets, but we are part of an age old continuum of face-to-face trading when we shop at a market especially if it’s outdoor with a great variety of stalls offering all kinds of wares.


In London there are several very famous markets, my favourite is the Columbia Road Flower Market, but the other weekend I revisited an old haunt I’ve not been to in over a decade. How Camden Lock Market has been developed and expanded was really surprising. Camden has gone ‘all’ market – now a major tourist destination, and it was heaving.

camden high street
Extremely, extremely busy Camden on a sunny, Saturday lunch-time in August .

At it’s core it is still fairly true to the alternative/vintage/hipster fashion experience, but also now there is a huge range of food stalls offering dishes from every cuisine you can think of. We sampled Japanese, Lebanese, Spanish and Mexican – all very tasty and freshly cooked.

Mass tourism allows us to visit markets all round the world and I think it is a special part of a trip if you can shop with the locals. Buying food becomes a treat and not a chore. Ideally with the more transitory nature of market stalls street merchants can try out the bohemian or the alternative, offering us customers something different or unusual. And it gives the small trader opportunities when selling only a limited stock of their homemade products or homegrown produce.

And, then, sometimes an entire market is a new experience.

 The Hong Kong Bird Market
The Hong Kong Bird Market