Tragedy struck this week at a local market in the Land of Smiles.
On our way to work, on Tuesday, we stopped by for our morning smoothie and found that our favourite smoothie lady had disappeared. Just up and vanished. Nothing left but a collapsed umbrella.
We’d stop by once or twice a day and watch as she’d hew a coconut or filet a fresh mango and along with ice, maybe yogurt and some magic, she’d produce a refreshing concoction, at once, filling and refreshing for about $1.50. She had other fruits as well. Whatever was in season. She’d caught a bit of keto fever and offered protein powder if you asked.
But this particular Tuesday, she’d vanished.
I went to 7/11 and bought a juice, and then went to my local staff who has a finger on the pulse of everything within a one block area.
“Pookie!” I asked, “What happened to the Smoothie Lady?”
She looked up from her keyboard and without a thought said, “It might have something to do with the Chicken Lady. They had a disagreement.” We were interupted, and so of course, I ruined much of the morning trying to imagine what argument may have taken place.
First, though a bit about how the market works, based on the oral reports I’ve collected.
It a thriving public/private symbiosis consisting of sidewalk vendors and lot vendors.
The sidewalk vendors set up on the curb and are managed by the city. As far as I can tell, it is squatters rights, though maybe there is a sign up. I hear that if you don’t show up, you lose the spot. There is some rotation. Some folks only come a couple days a week, but if you’re sick, and it’s your day, you send a family member to run the stall, so you don’t lose your place. I don’t know what rent the city charges. Maybe it’s a few dollars a week.
The lot vendors are managed by the widow who owns the building housing Family Mart. She’s got quite the operation going. For 20 dollars a week, vendors get an awning, electricity, some water and a guaranteed spot.
There was drama several months ago when the old widow redrew the grid and shrunk the stall size from 6 x 6 feet to 5 x 5 feet. This allowed her to squeeze in an extra stall here and there and hence, some extra income.
And apparently, this is where the chicken lady comes in.
My source, Pookie, related that after the re-arrangement, there was space available next to the smoothie lady. The chicken lady asked to move in next to her. The smoothie lady, though, didn’t want to feel crowded. Business for her was really good, so she paid for both spaces and crowded out the Chicken Lady who had to leave the lot altogether.
“I think the smoothie lady maybe got too conceited. She did good business for a while. But then with COVID, maybe business not so good any more. I hope the chicken lady comes back. Her chicken is very tasty!”
So, we’ll see how this saga unfolds. We’ll see who has the better plan and who can execute their plan for control of their 5 x 5 foot area. We’ve found another smoothie vendor at the back of the lot. They seem nice. Their fruit is well presented and the husband cuts very nice garnishes. Maybe they’ll become our new favorite.