The Making of a Town Market

Talbot Warren Torrance April 1 1910

The Making of a Town Market

Talbot Warren Torrance April 1 1910

The Making of a Town Market


Talbot Warren Torrance

THE evolution of a Town Market is never an entirely natural process, but always a matter of

industry, perseverance and judgment. The plain, proven fact is that where there is a Good Market Town there can be created a Good Town Market, self-supporting, if not profitearning, a boon to the community and a genuine source of satisfaction and of pride. And it does not matter if these Good Market Towns run in the proportion of half a dozen or more to each county, according as the county is big or little.

The Town of Galt is over half a century old, and since its incorporation it has been trying more or less

strenuously and sincerely to establish a first-class, dependable, “goingconcern” of a public market, for which it boasts exceptional facilities, natural and artificial. Galt has that very kind of market to-day—the finishing touches of market success and assured permanency having, within about a year, been added to the structure erected on foundations laid good, deep and solid, literally and figuratively. And among the nine thousand and more inhabitants, there are very few to be found decrying its status, challenging its usefulness or predicting its decadence.

Facing a fifty-year undertaking might possibly frighten an average

Good Market Town from the notion of creating a Good Town Market.

But the case of Galt need not be deterrent : rather, it should be educative. encouraging stimulative. If one community has blazed the way, another may expect to find the trail. I have frankly stated that Galt has virtually been on its market-making job for half a century. At the same time, I want to give the formula which the town has discovered, after all these years of experimentation, so that mutatis mutandis, pari passu, or other fitting phrase, any other Good Market Town can, as it were, take a wineglassful three times a day after meals, shaking the bottle well, and be able to establish its own Good Town Market in the course, perhaps, of one short year.

First ingredient : The local public spirit that approves a market, wants to see one established and will loyally and steadily support it. If not existent—and it is easy to conceive of opposition to a town market, active and passive—employ educational methods. Hold a public meeting or two. Circulate market literature. Get the Town Council and the Board of Trade busy. Agitate, agitate. agitate! The popular “coon” simply has to agree to come down oft the limb when he is dead certain you are going to shoot. The example of the Mayor of Galt in encouraging public sentiment towards market support is worthy of imitation. He endorsed market-making in his inaugural of two years ago. He has never lost an opportunity to talk market-making in his public addresses. He secured a considerable civic appropriation this year for advertising the market, and some of the money was spent in editorial and circular matter, aimed at convincing the townspeople that a Town Market is a good thing. It has taken a couple of years of straight work along these lines to spread such an atmosphere of local good-will to the

Galt market, that it is almost fattening now to breathe it. Everybody goes to the market in Galt. Everybody boasts of its size and consequence. Everybody, I had almost said, swears by it. At all events, everybody now stands up, after a deputation for “market pointers” visits the town, (as one now and then does), and proudly exclaims: “See that? didn’t we tell you so?” And everybody, or pretty nearly everybody, is willing that later on, $3,000 be spent in the work of enlarging and improving the present fine market building and premises, which have become somewhat inadequate for the large attendance of sellers and buyers every market day. This last-named proposition is, perhaps, the most signal and satisfying proof that the Galt Market has duly arrived, with all that the term implies. A look at the picture of Galt’s present market accommodation will enable one better to appreciate the gratifying situation that calls, like little Oliver, for “more.” Second ingredient: The market

square for vehicles and the market house for baskets. The Galt square covers an area of two large lots ; is macadam-paved and top-dressed, with cement border, and effective gutter. It would give room on three sides for at least fifty farmers’ wagons. The town hall, in the basement of which licensed butchers sell (no other meat, except pork purveyor being licensed within a radius of 300 yards of the market) adjoins the square, as do also the hay and wood area and the big weigh scales. There is a corner reserved on the square for auction sales. This fine square has been evolved, after some years at considerable expense. But it is an ideal open market place. The housed portion is a building, 270 x 40 feet, of brick, with verandah roof on one side. In it are movable tables extending the full length and apportioned in 3-foot spaces to the vendors. Some mar-

TWO DAYS FRIDAY THE BUYER IS WAITING FOR YOU Dealers can sell In a Comfortable Building. Attentive Clerk on hand to assign Locations Ponltrc, Eggs, Batter, Cheese, Meats, Vegetables GOME ALONC. JOIN THE CROWD JAJVftAT SRO*. I

ket gardeners and florists have preempted extra large spaces, which they rent by the year. The interior is warmed with gas stoves, lighted with electricity, provided with women’s lavatory, and kept scrupulously neat and clean. Ventilation and admission of natural light is all that could be desired. The market clerk’s office is in an end corner. No more satisfactory accommodation,

say those who enjoy it, is furnished by any other market in this district. Before the erection of the Carnegie building, the Public Library was located above the market. Now these fine quarters are occupied as a Club Room. The cost of this model market building may be stated approximately at $20,000.

Third Ingredient: An operative

and active market by-law. The Galt

market by-law lias undergone many changes since, long years ago, it was framed. The effort to make each succeeding change fit into place and not clog the movement was perplexing and painful, not to say futile. Now, however, there is a workable market by-law, the provisions of which are called into use only so far as they are of practical service to help the market along. The Galt market by-law creates an open market. in so far as freedom of buying goes. The plan of prohibiting a jobber or dealer operating before ten o'clock a.m. on marketday has been abandoned. Now any buyer may come along and do what he likes with the stuff, at any hour: always provided that he shall not buy and corner and then proceed to sell on the market. The small buyer, the citizen, is protected to that extent. It is his own look-out if he comes late. There is also provision restricting the itinerant huckster, so that he may legally deliver only such goods as have been ordered, and prohibiting trucking from house to house. This trucking system has

long been the bane of the marketmaker. There could not be a more complete way of dissuading a woman from attending market than to have the market, as represented by the huckster, come and wait on her. That style of selling has to be frowned down, talked down and turned down, because it is fatal to the market — until, of course, the good lady tastes the market and acquires the market-going habit. Then huckstering on back streets dies a natural death. But the process of cure must not be too drastic.

There are two market days provided for in Galt. Wednesdays and Saturdays. The “free-or-fee” market was for long years a bone of contention. And now — like the Scotchman, who declared: “Honesty’s the best policy — I’ve tried baith”—the Town of Galt is ready to say the fee system is best, for it has given both a trial. But it is a merely nominal fee the by-law provides—io cents on the vehicle, 5 cents for the stand at the table, and all privileges, except smoking, inside the building, thrown in. The fees

are, after all, merely an earnest that the market is tinder the control and supervision of the Town; and yet they net a good, round sum every month. Fresh meat may not be offered, except by the quarter. Hams shall not be amputated at the foot. Poultry must be rightly dressed. Stands must not be shared with vendors who pay no fee. The fees for measuring and weighing are also purely nominal. The Market Clerk has absolute jurisdiction, and his finding in all cases is final. The bylaw, on the whole, isn’t oppressive or exacting, and. wisely administered, works smoothly. P>ut such a market by-law can be made, and then enforced, as would rip up the back of any Good Town Market ever put on its feet. “Be careful with your framework and don’t use any more of the fast tongue-andgroove stuff than you really have to!” is the sober counsel of Galt’s expert market-makers.

Fourth Ingredient: — A market committee, that knows the situation and is always ready to meet it accommodatingly. The Galt market committee comprises some of the best and most experienced aldermen. In their work they don’t go ambling all over the British Empire and pawing all over the British Constitution. The Galt market is field enough for them, and they are Market aldermen first, last and always. Chairman Radigan will frankly tell you that, if as a market producedealer the presence of a market hits him in the store, yet the indirect benefit to his business, not to speak of the fun he has, amply compensates. He and his colleagues know, because they study market needs, and their constant aim is to hold what the institution has and honestly get more. No Good Town Market, let it be insisted, can ever be built up and stay built unless back of it are experienced, active aidermen who, like Jim Bludso, “see their

duty, a dead sure thing, and go for it thar an’ then.”

Fifth Ingredient : An efficient

market clerk. Charles Bart, Galt’s market clerk, has filled the office for over five years past, with satisfaction to the council, with the approval of the public, and with credit to him. I lis duties are many, but they sit easily on his smiling, ruddy, rotund personality. He is always in good temper, and tries to keep everybody else on the market that way. He adjusts differences tactfully: he never convicts a first offender; he is everybody’s willing servant, and he collects every copper flue the town in a style that almost makes the party assessed want to pay more. “Make friends for the market and the market will grow,” he reasons. He is a real market missionary. Away out in distant quarters he discovers likely prospects and sends his circulars or pays a personal'visit to induce a new vendor to come to Galt. He has been known to guarantee a fruit dealer at a long distance the sale of a wagon load of watermelons, and run the risk safely. The same with a butcher who lingered shivering on. the brink in the late fall, and feared to launch away a few carcases of spring lamb. “I’ll buy every pound you don’t sell,” promised Charley—and he didn’t have to spend a cent ; the people were there ready to buy twice the amount of lamb that was offered. The kind of market clerk Mr. Chas. Bart. Galt, is was signally testified to at Christmas, when an appreciative address, accompanied by a handsome armchair, was presented to him bv admiring friends from the surrounding countryside.

Sixth Ingredient : Make good

roads of the main thoroughfares that are the arteries of countrvside transportation. Galt spent, a few vears ago, two thousand dollars on a portion of East Main St., leading to the great Stone Road, a stretch of

GALT MARKET - IS THE -Best in these parts for the Seller. BRING YOUR PRODUCE HERE WEDNESDAYS AND SATURDAYS The Buyer awaits you. He has the Cash and Wants your Best. Every Convenience and Comfort in Vegetable Market Building for All._ Galt Stores can supply you with all your needs.

about half a mile. It has spent in proportion to that on West Main St., the extension of South Water St., the Blenheim Rd., the Preston Rd., St. Andrew’s St., in fact on every highway that leads to the townships where the farms are and from whence come the farmers to make the Good Galt Market. The streets of central Galt are models. On forty miles of them are laid the best concrete walks that money and skill in labor can produce—which is another >torv. however. But it is the roadways serving the suburbs that excite the keenest admiration. A very great deal of money ($40,000 to $50,000) lias been expended in this direction, but not a dollar of it is re-

gretted. It’s all coming back, in the most natural and pleasing way. The case of St. Andrew St. is typical of the resolute way in which topographical obstacles are surin o u n t e d in good road-making. It is a winding hill road. The prey for many years of recurrent spring and fall floods. The sum of $5,000 has been laid out on it. It passed Government inspection last fall, and now is in perfect shape.

Seventh Ingredient : A vigorous policy of advertising. Newspaper space has been regularly taken and paid for at current rates. It was editorial, apt, timely, strong. At intervals

the publicity sheet, affectionately called a “dodger,” because you can’t dodge the boy properly delivering it, and the feuillton in

the shape of a missive per mail, have been placed by the thousands, where they were likely to

do some good in persuading ( 1 ) the farmer of this section that Galt is the right town to make

his market town, and (2) in

impressing on Galtonians that a fine market offering was being spread for them twice a week, and that if they neglected to get some of it they were missing the chance of their lives. They were the proverbial “good stuff,” they made excellent ammunition, and they helped to a large extent to create a healthy market boom. The immediate result of all this well-directed effort at profitable publicity has been to bring

tlie farmers, fruit-growers, poultrymen, and others of the food-producing class from points that were esteemed too remote to be tributary to this town. The newcomers came to experiment, and remained to trade, right straight along. From as far north as Wellesley; as far south as Ancaster and Grimsby ; as far east as Stoney Creek; as far west as miles beyond Ayr, new names have been added to the list of regular vendor patrons of the Galt Market, within the past year or two. And the list is growing fast. It can’t help growing; for, as one of the local papers observed, one day last June —the article is typical of the editorial contribution to the subject, following or preceding market day— “The Galt market is fast gaining the reputation of being one of the best in the country for produce of all kinds. Farmers and market gardeners sell out their butter, eggs and vegetables in short order, and at good prices, and the suppty is scarcely ever equal to the demand. It is to the interest of both town and country people to boom the Galt market.”

Eighth Ingredient : Evincing tangible interest in essentially agricultural institutions. This is done by

store keepers and citizens generally helping the Farmer Directors to make a success of the Annual Fall Fair by approving the combined Spring Seed Fair and stallion show, and subscribing to the prize-list ; by building a joint-stock farmers’ feed stable, independent of hotels whose licenses were cut off—to which may be added the holding of genuine bargain sales in the various stores at stated intervals, and thus bidding directly for the farming trade.

So, faithfully adhering to the foregoing formula, in the course of the past year or so a turn in the tide of Galt market affairs has set in and is leading on to the proverbial fortune. The good town market in the good market town is a fixture.

Why should not other good market towns, go and do likewise? One G. M. T. will never hurt, but rather help, another. The farmer and his wife will merely grow and trade more; the town family will buy and eat more. All through the operation will be verified the truth of the aphorism : “Supply creates demand —You can’t tell what and how much the public want till you show them what and how much you have to supply their wants.”

If a man didn't have a good time at Christmas he wouldn’t feel like making good resolutions at the New Year.—Jean Milne.