Postcard from Valencia in Spain, the beautiful historical city yet surrounded with huge non-descript outskirts. This post card is sent from the weekly market at Avenida del Cid, in one of those outskirts. More than 200 market stands spread over 2 kilometers, all selling more or less the same: cheap clothes, be it underwear, shirts, robes, trousers, children wear, plastic foot wear, most of it looking worn before wearing, old before aging. All incredibly cheap – 1 Euro, 2 or 6, at maximum 10 Euro. Most items either from China, or second hand, often displayed in a heap, not fit for nice display, for hanging or folding, just a drab textile flotsam.
The customers appear as worn out as what is on sale, mostly old, often poor. Here is a feeling of tiredness in the air, of spent forces, lost quality and decline. This is the market of a poor economy. Here is no added value, no diversity, no attempt at beauty or attraction. It does not support any value chain, it just dumps poor clothes to be rummaged by people with little money to spend. Whereas markets can be pivots in economies, providing outlets for producers, facilitating diversity, pinnacles in vibrant value chains, this weekly El Cid market is all but – only emblematic of a stagnant economy – giving no room for local produce, not adding any attraction, selling all at cut throat prices, with most 200 market sellers indistinguishable from one another. Compare the El Cid market with the uptown Mercato Central, in a beautiful art deco building, selling an amazing diversity of good quality, beautifully displayed food items, primarily by local producers: seafood, Jambon Iberico, vegetables, spices, cheeses, marmalades, all types of olives. It is at Mercato Central that useful goods and services circulate, value is added and margins are made. The drab weekly clothes market at Avenido El Cid has little of that, it appears to just replicate and consolidate poverty.