Week 2: The Marketing of Markets

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 17 › view all entries

The growing tourist industry in combination with the savvy twenty-first century traveler has guaranteed the success of weekly open air markets in Buenos Aires. Tourists scour the markets weekly in search of something truly Argentine. Curiously enough, I strongly don’t think that any of these tourists are really experiencing Argentina or Buenos Aires while scouring the markets instead of looking beyond them. Regardless, if you are searching for something made by Argentine hands or are feeling homesick for English (pick your accent, Australian seems to be quite popular), head to San Telmo’s Plaza Dorrego, La Boca’s El Caminito, Palermo’s Plaza Serrano, Recoleta’s Plaza Alvearz (SP?) or simply head to Florida Street on a Saturday or Sunday and follow one of the many bewildered wanderers and while they wave their city guide and map as a flag you are guaranteed to easily pick them out in a crowd. Be wary though that you too may be followed, not by a fellow tourist, but by an Argentine salesman drawn to you like moths to the flame hoping to convince you to pull just “uno peso, one coin” from your (more than likely) freshly purchased Argentine leather purse. 

While varying in slight degrees, all of the markets in Buenos Aires contain very similar affair�"leather products, knit shawls, scarves and ponchos, mate supplies, and necklaces made of the national stone (can anyone tell me what the national stone of America is?). You can smell a market a block away because the garrapinada salesmen pace themselves at every street corner in the vicinity of a market, selling their delicious little sweet peanuts in plastic tubes. 

It’s not easy being an artisan no matter where it is you live, so it is your great fortune if you happen to stumble upon an artist and are their first customer of the day. You will never see a bigger smile anywhere. Don’t ever forfeit the opportunity to talk with the seller of wares, even if your intent is not in purchasing. They are fascinating people with intriguing stories to tell.

All in all, despite their attraction of foreign tourists, the Market experience is one worth having in Buenos Aires. My last piece of advice is to wear headphones and bring some music so you can watch the world pass by at a new pace, take a step back from the exchanging of pesos, and avoid all of the salesmen as you appear to have a destination and are therefore unapproachable, and better off for it.
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