Me: “May I take a picture of your stall?”
Vendor: “What is it for?”
Me: “I love markets so I take pictures”
Vendor: “Ok, but don’t publish them on the Internet”
Me: “I want to publish them on my blog”
Vendor with a smile: “Ok, but only if you write nicely about us”
So do I write nicely in this post? Well, I like food markets and I try to rather understand why they are as they are. Some are exciting, some are probably just deeply rooted in their community. And so is the Saturday market in Porz.
Porz, is a city district of Cologne, latter being famous for its cathedral, Kölsch beer and of course carnival. It is an industrial city, neat, but not a tourist attraction. I found quite many vegetable and fruits shops in the city centre mainly managed by people of Turkish background. The Saturday market seems to find its niche despite similar offerings.
There are about a dozen stalls, some selling clothes, but the majority selling produce. It is a little bit squeezed in between rails, a pedestrian zone and a parking garage. Not the nicest surroundings, but the humor of the vendors and some of the clientele made up for it.
So why are people coming?
Well, it really looked like that the customers and the vendors knew each other.
A customer got a credit from his vendor as he would come back as usual in 2 to 3 weeks and pay without being reminded.
One lady is coming every week since 1985 at the very large fruit and vegetable stall. Her and the vendor were joking the whole time about silly things, a joy to watch. The reason why the lady comes every week is the good relationship to the vendor but also his merchandise which offers superior quality to a supermarket. The produce just stays fresh much longer she claimed. Even though the source was the wholesale market, the market vendor has then the role to chose the best produce there.
What about the young generation?
As on most open markets I visited, the customers are rather middle aged or older. Not too many twenty-something around. A vendor claimed that the young generation does not know how to cook anymore, therefore not having the urge to buy fresh produce. Another one stated that in today’s families both parents have to work to make a living, therefore making it difficult to visit the open market, especially during the week. I don’t know if those are realistic explanations… Probably it would be interesting to experiment a bit more on how to attract a younger customer base.
This leads to the question:
What to find on this market?
Lots of eggs, really lots of eggs. At least 3 stall had a large selection of chicken eggs: small, large, jumbo, brown, white, you name it.
One butcher (the friendly one in the picture gallery) had a stall which was really shiny, pretty and modern, thus making all the sausages, meats and so on very appetizing. He does not own an own shop, but serves several markets. Another butcher had rabbit legs, something I do not see everywhere. The lady selling knew very much about the Mediterranean and German style of cooking them, so must be the clientele then.
The vegetable & fruit stall mentioned above had an incredible variety of produce spread over probably 10 meter or so. I have no idea how somebody can manage that many produce from a business perspective. Well he does the job since decades in second generation, that might explain it.
Only one farmer was present a the market, a fairly old guy selling organic produce more adapted to the season: potatoes, beets, carrots and the like.
Besides this offering: honey, vodka-honey-liquor, flowers and baking good where available as well.
The cheese selection was noteworthy, with fairly high quality of French cheeses and a nice selection of German ones. Something not be found easily even in supermarkets.
All in all: A small market with vendors and clients who know each other and have humor, giving a sense of community.
A little link list:
- Porz on Wikipedia