It's that simple... People need stuff, people want stuff, people love stuff. So where do they get that stuff?
In the modern world, we’re well accustomed to supermarkets with their serried ranks of stuff and shopping malls full of stuff. People elbowing each other, their trolleys bulldozing all sorts of stuff, among these purveyors of all the stuff you could wish for. Somehow, shopping never was my cup of tea, but I'll make a proviso because in this world a little too tedious where shopping online has become more exciting than going out to the store, one old-time tradition, that of the farmers or flea markets is one that survived, and is still alive and kicking.
A market is a magical place to go to because there you can get stuff cannot be got readily off the shelf 24/7, you have to wait for market day. It is magical because, like Ali Baba, you are in awe and don't know for sure what stuff you will find there. It is magical because whether in Istanbul or in Avignon, the market is by nature colourful and anarchic and visceral. It is universal.
Bazar in Istanbul
Marché de Provence
It is magical because it is the essence of civilisation. In the beginning there was barter, and in the end there may just be barter. In the 2010 British movie Shank, in a post apocalyptic London, the fish market in the East End is the first place where links can be re-established between people. My point is that the wheel of history and the wheels of commerce travel hand in hand and weird ways. In the kingdom of modern business that us a continent where "historical buildings" date back 250 years at most, there is a place in Pennsylvania which has very little to do with the Modern World, and everything to do with the Old World. For the ultimate thrill of a medieval-like market experience, there is no place like the Saturday's market.
I can lose myself in there, it is so easy to just look around action figures, the comic books knives, coffee, knick-knacks, books, old copies of Life magazine with their George Petty pin-up illustrations, homemade kimchi, furniture, socks, rugs, wool, glassware, the JR Watkins vendor who sells all of the old Watkins products, like the Old Black Drawing Salve, the menthol ointment for colds, Watkins vanilla cinnamon, black pepper.....
The only place that near this experience is buried in my memory, and in my youth. Once upon a time, at a cross road on the D23 in the heart of Burgundy, there was a guy. His house was his kingdom, a veritable Ali Baba cave. And he DID have everything you could wish for. No one will ever know how all that stuff - sausages, ribbons, jams, postcards, rolls of fabric, goats cheese, you name it - found its way to "Les Grands Magasins" du Puits (Le Puits' General store, see location picture below).... Mind you his shop WAS at a cross roads...Need I say more?