Andrew Burke

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Market
Posted on: 2005-09-29

I went to the Santa Cruz farmer's market yesterday, and it reminded me of something my mother noticed in Ottawa: the market area is right next to the Rideau Centre mall, and as you go from one to the other, you notice that in the market people seem to be cheerful and they enjoy being there, while in the mall everybody has a blank expression or a scowl on their face. Every so often when I'm in a mall, I'll look around and see if anybody is actually having any fun - and it turns out most of the people aren't. At the market, people were definitely enoying themselves.

What actually struck me the most was how everything was in round numbers. Five sweet peppers for a dollar - not 99 cents plus tax, but a dollar. Give the person three tomatoes, he weights them, says 'about a pound' and charges a nice round number accordingly (I don't actually remember the weight of three tomatoes or the price of a pound - I'm a programmer!). I came there fresh from a bank machine, and left with bills and two quarters - not two nickels, four dimes, a quarter, and two pennies. Even with the rather inflated prices for locally-grown organic produce, I felt less like I was being taken advantage of - perhaps it's heartening to see things that cost 2 dollars not pretending to be 1.99, hoping that I'll see the 1 and think 'wow, that's less than 2 dollars!'.

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