Business

VIDEO: Downtown Eastside market in Vancouver's Pigeon Park

It's like a garage sale. But without a garage. And it has become an important, weekly ritual for residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"It allows you to be able to, instead of going and standing in the food lines, gives you the dignity of, you know, you invest in a little store and you come out here and you make a couple hundred a week," said Bruce Sauer, a resident of the Downtown Eastside.

"Down here, when you're trying to live on what they give you, $250 bucks a month... I mean, who can live on that?" said Sauer, in the video above.

"That few dollars a week, is a big deal."

Every week, a "pop-up market" opens in Pigeon Park, on Carrall Street and Hastings, where residents of one of Canada's poorest communities are free to sell their toys, trinkets, and other valuables.

Again, they're free to.

"All you have to do is be a resident of the Downtown Eastside and it's free to vend," said Roland Clarke, the market's co-ordinator, to the Canadian Press's Darryl Dyck.

Clarke says the market has been running every Sunday for more than 215 consecutive weeks over four years, with 200 vendors generating combined revenues of "at least" $10,000 every week.

That amounts to half-a-million dollars a year, Clarke said, which is a significant amount for residents of the "poorest postal code in Canada."

"They don't have backyards to sell used items," Clarke said. "They can come here for free and sell their items."

Clarke also says between 20 and 100 tonnes of landfill is removed by the market every year, as well, an environmental benefit.

The market actually started in 2010, after the city's controversial policing crackdown and "ticketing spree" in the wake of Vancouver's Winter Olympics, according to a 2013 story by Vice Magazine and reporter Nicky Young.

Police were handing out vending fines to eastside residents for unregulated selling, she writes.

"The trouble is most of these people are homeless or don't have a fixed address so a few months after the ticket is sent they get a court date, which they will miss due to not being able to receive mail, receive a failure to appear and go to jail," said Clarke, interviewed in that Vice article.

"It's a horribly cruel and inhumane way of actually dealing with a street disorder."

Young refers to the Sunday shops as the city's "junk market" where "vendors in the eastside gather to sell old electronics, porn, and other random junk."

"So this market started as a protest in 2010," continued Clarke, "as way of saying that there's all this selling out of desperation going on because welfare is so low, we're going to create a safe zone here

Video/Files by Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press

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