Saturday, April 07, 2012

When The Market Came To Puerto Alcúdia

Maybe Good Friday wasn't the best day to launch a new weekly market. Puerto Alcúdia welcomed its market and welcomed relatively few browsers and buyers. It's only the first one, so it has to be given time. This was the sentiment being expressed, which was fair enough, but at Easter time, with tourists around, might there not have been an expectation that more people would have shown up? Possibly, but then how many tourists would have known? It would be interesting to know how well Alcúdia town hall has passed on the information that the market was opening to the hotels and even more interesting to know if they supplied a map. People still don't really know where the market is, and unless you did, it was easy to miss it.

The market is in a square and only in a square. It had what you might expect of a market and none of the added paraphernalia that finds itself on sale at large markets. Confined to the square, it looked like a market should. It was self-contained, orderly, not sprawling hither and thither. How long before there is pressure, though, for it to expand away from its location tucked away off the main road and to cross the main road onto the promenade?

The town hall was there in numbers. Lady mayor Coloma, lady mayor Coloma's right-hand woman Carme and others. Coloma is a bit toothy when you get up close, which was emphasised by the fact that she seemed genuinely pleased that I should announce to her that the "English" press was there to take some photos and talk to some stallholders.

It was sort of dress-down Friday for the town hall. The mayor was bejeaned, as was some chap whose shirt was hanging out. There is informality in Mallorca, but at times you wonder if it doesn't go a bit far. The mayor and her entourage were on walkabout, glad handing the stallholders. I didn't see any transactions, no bags of potatoes or sausages being crammed into a mayoral rucksack. Perhaps they put in orders for later collection.

A solitary policeman was on duty. There was no need for crowd control. Instead, he appeared to have been detailed to communicate with dog owners. Initially, I thought that maybe the market was a dog-free zone, but a sign with an owner crouching behind a dog suggested that perhaps he was there in an educative capacity. Education that probably came with a reminder of what it might cost if scooping up were not to occur.

Otherwise, the market was as markets are. Fruit, vegetables, sausages, cheeses, sweets, plants, flowers, toys, shoes, clothes, bags and belts: a regular small market, not with the street imperialism of the old town's market which occupies virtually the whole of the old town; well, in summer at any rate.

Will the market be a success? We'll see, and these were the words of Julie at Nova Marina, just nearby on the prom. It would be good to think that it would be and that it would bring business to the bars and restaurants in winter in particular. But it still occurs to me that an opportunity has been missed, and that Puerto Alcúdia's market would have been better placed, in summer anyway, right in the tourist centre. Or does this overlook what a market, any market, is intended as? One that serves local people with often less expensive goods and produce than would be available in shops? There is a higher density of population in the port area, this is certainly the case.

As it is, it probably won't attract great numbers of tourists. Some, but not as many as the twice-weekly and much bigger markets in the old town. From the tourist centre, the port and old town markets are pretty much equidistant, and everyone knows about the old town markets, hotel receptionists included. They'll need to create a reason for people to go to the port market instead of or as well as the old town's. At the moment, though it was only the first, it is hard to see what that reason might be.

Any comments to please.

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