The thing about a market is that it should be capitalism at its reddest of tooth and claw and sometimes this is the case. Markets are places where, traditionally, the person with the loudest shout, visually or verbally, is likely to emerge on top - it is the ultimate form of retail Darwinism.
Yet oddly, travel to downtown Toronto and you will come across a market where this is not the case. St Lawrence Market has rather more of a community feel about it - a place where every trader knows his or her position within the structure of the whole and where competition may be present, but there is room for everybody.
From the shopper’s perspective, this means a greater width of choice and the chance to see a few really unusual products, whether it is massive bunches of herbs of the kind more usually dished up in small packets by the supermarkets, or baskets of potatoes.
Nothing too unusual in the latter, you might think, but actually the baskets in question have been tipped on their sides with each containing a specific type, colour and size of tuber. This is visual merchandising of the kind that spells abundance and might be seen in the UK in locations such as London’s Borough Market. The difference is that the Toronto version has been going for very much longer and therefore has had a greater time to develop its personality.
It also puts the best mainstream UK fresh food merchants to shame. Every one here looks happy: shoppers and traders. It is how a market should be and it you are fortunate enough to visit the city, it should be on the must see list.