A tianguis is an open-air market or bazaar that is traditionally held on certain market days in a town or city neighborhood in Mexico and Central America. This bazaar tradition has its roots well into the pre-Hispanic period and continues in many cases essentially unchanged into the present day.The word tianguis comes from tiyānquiztli in Classical Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec Empire. In rural areas, many traditional types of merchandise are still sold, such as agriculture supplies and products as well as modern, mass-produced goods. In the cities, mass-produced goods are mostly sold, but the organization of tianguis events is mostly the same. There are also specialty tianguis events for holidays such as Christmas as well as for particular types of items such as cars or art.
The tradition of buying and selling in temporary markets set up either on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc.) is a strong feature in much of Mexican culture and has a history that extends far back into the pre-Hispanic period.It was the most important form of commerce in the pre-Hispanic era, and after the Spanish Conquest, the Europeans mostly kept this tradition intact. Market areas have been identified in ruins such as El Tajín in Veracruz, and a number of pre-Hispanic towns were initially founded as regional markets, such as Santiago Tianguistenco and Chichicastenango, Guatemala . The word tianguis derives from the Nahuatl word tiyānquiztli 'open air-market', from tiyāmiqui 'to trade, sell'. The most important markets, such as the one in Tlatelolco, were set up and taken down every day of the week. This market served about one fifth of the population of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) before the Conquest and had its own governing system, which included a panel of twelve judges to resolve disputes. Today, one of the most visited exhibits in the National Museum of Anthropology is the model of the pre-Hispanic market such as the one in Tenochtitlan.
From the time of the Conquest to the present, many tianguis, especially in rural areas, have continued to operate much in the same way as before, with only changes in merchandise that reflect changing customer needs.In the cities, especially Mexico City, the history of these markets is filled with examples of attempts to regulate them and push them away to other places, with mixed success. The Zócalo, or main plaza of Mexico City, was the scene of a number of efforts to clear the area of ambulantes , street vendors, and establish permanent markets in or near the plaza such as the Parian. In all these cases, vendors eventually retook the plaza This problem was again tackled in the 1990s as part of an effort to revitalize the historic center of Mexico City. Despite much initial resistance, the area has been free of street peddlers since that time. Much of the tianguis' business that used to be done in the Zocalo has now moved to other places such as the Tepito neighborhood.
In the 20th century, local governments in Mexico have promoted municipal or public markets or mercados to better regulate the selling of goods traditionally available in tianguis. In Mexico City, some of the better known of these markets are La Merced, Abelardo L. Rodriguez Market and Mercado Lagunilla.La Merced is located in an area that had been a huge tianguis for most of the colonial period as it was located at the edge of a lake (now drained). The Abelardo L. Rodriguez Market was specifically built by the government in the 1930s to try to “modernize” the sale of produce and other staples. It went as far as having a daycare center and a theater and commissioning Diego Rivera to supervise the painting of murals inside. These murals can still be seen today. However, these efforts have not eliminated the tianguis tradition; in fact, the number of such informal markets (5,836,000) far surpasses the number of mercados (2,810,000). In Mexico City alone, there are 317 mercados versus 1,357 tianguis. One reason is that many of these mercados are not well-maintained and few new ones have been built since the 1970s.
The tianguis is part of the so-called “informal economy”even though many of the “informal” vendors are well enough known and established to offer services such as layaway. While many establish stores consider the tianguis to be damaging to their businesses, many Mexican consumers see both sectors as complementary.
Surveys of consumers have shown that many Mexicans buy from tianguis because of the frequent lack of bargains, social interaction, and customer service in formal stores. According to one survey, over 90% stated that they have bought merchandise from a tianguis, with the average family spending about 300 pesos per visit. The most common items sold in tianguis include groceries, beauty supplies, clothing, appliances, electronics, prepared foods, tools and used goods.About a third of Mexicans buy at least some of their clothing and shoes in tianguis.
In the most traditional of tianguis, public officials will close off a street to vehicle traffic on a specified day so that merchants (called “ambulantes”) can set up their spaces on the sidewalks and/or roadways. Most of the spaces are covered by plastic tarps to protect sellers and vendors from the sun and/or the rain. They often enclose the entire area, giving the market an enclosed feeling. In many rural and smaller towns, there is usually a preferred area, which is usually in the town center, near the church plaza and permanent market.
In larger cities, the market exists, often in places with no supermarkets or mercados nearby.Neighbors and permanent merchants in the Del Valle neighborhood of Mexico City see the weekly tianguis as a benefit. It brings basic staples such as vegetables, fruit, clothing as well as crafts and traditional sweets to a neighborhood that does not have a permanent market or supermarket. For permanent merchants, the tianguis brings increased foot traffic to the area. Many crowd around established markets or “mercados” such as La Lagunilla in Mexico City. In cases such as these, vendors set up stalls everyday, but the area is most crowded on weekends. On Saturdays in La Lagunilla, stands selling leather, coats and jackets, vintage clothes and other items crowd the streets.
Some tianguis are private spaces, which usually contain both permanent buildings and open areas for stalls. One example of this is El Sol in Zapopan, Jalisco, where the vendors in the permanent area operate all week and the tianguis area is mostly occupied on weekends.Most tianguis operate more according to tradition than by formal rules. All have some kind of administrator or administration committee. The job of administrators is to interact with local authorities on behalf of tianguis sellers and manage internal affairs, especially the assignment of spaces and the collection of rental fees. The first rule is the process of negotiating for a space, but often this includes the denial of spaces for those who are unknown to the administration. Another is for vendors to watch out for authorities and warn others of authorities who may come to inspect sellers. In some markets, bartering is making a comeback, especially in the rural areas, such as the northeast of Morelos state. In one market in Zaculapan, 150 of 400 vendors state that they accept bartered goods, especially in produce and staple food products such as milk and bread. One reason for this is that many rural families lack cash, but raise produce for sale on their own farms and orchards. This tradition has existed for centuries, but increases in hard times.
Vendor spaces can be as simple as a cloth on the ground to a simple table or pile of boxes to tables with walls made up of interconnecting metal poles. Those who sell goods from the ground may have only a few things to sell or their cloth might be filled to the edge. Those with a table have the advantage of having their goods in easier reach of both buyer and seller. Merchandise from these spaces is usually produce, hats, jewelry, pottery and other small, unbreakable items. Stalls with walls allow for the hanging of merchandise such as clothing or the addition of shelves for more delicate wares. These type of stalls can display six times the merchandise than those who sell from the ground or table.
Most goods sold in tianguis are small items that customers can carry away. In many of these markets, vendors selling similar items group together. This has advantages for both buyer and seller, as it provides a wider variety of products than would a single merchant. It also lets shoppers know where to find a particular item. Certain goods are more prone to this such as produce, meat, and certain specialized or craft items. However, exceptions to this occur because a vendor cannot afford space in the area or because he or she is looking for convenience shoppers who are not looking to bargain. Most tianguis sellers, especially produce sellers, arrange their wares in certain arrangements, such as in baskets, or into neat piles to make their wares more attractive.
The tianguis in rural areas most closely resemble those of centuries past.Most still contain a large amount of agricultural supplies, produce and other food staples, livestock, handmade items and traditional clothing. In many, indigenous languages such as Nahuatl and Zapotec can be heard. One example is the Sunday market of Cuetzalan, Puebla, where Nahuatl speaking people can be heard negotiating prices on items such as vanilla beans, handcrafted textiles, huipils, coffee, flowers and baskets much as their ancestors did. The Tlacolula Sunday market in Oaxaca is the largest and busiest in the central valleys area of the state, and brings people from the very rural areas into town to both sell and buy. The market fills an important retail and social gap as most of the outlying villages are too small to support permanent stores and many use the opportunity to converse with distant neighbors. Even sellers will consider who they want to socialize with when choosing a selling space. The tianguis of Chilapa, Guerrero attracts thousands of Nahua and Tlapaneco people, who come to buy and sell handcrafts, medicinal plants, local specialties such as pozole and many other items. Many of the visitors are from neighboring regions. Prices are low. It is possible to buy a liter of mezcal for only 25 pesos. The weekly Thursday market in Villa de Zaachila is divided into three parts, one devoted to firewood, as many still cook with it, one to livestock and the rest to basic staples. While many of the goods sold in rural markets are similar to those sold for centuries, modern items such as mass-produced tools, clothing such as jeans, CDs, DVDs and automobiles are also sold.
The organization and function of most city tianguis are mostly the same as those in rural areas; however merchandise varies somewhat and there are problems associated with holding this type of event in the more crowded city. One of the oldest continually operating tianguis in Mexico is the one in Cuautitlán, just outside Mexico City, which has been going on every Tuesday for over 500 years. The market was established in 1491 by the Chichimecas when this area was rural and a way station between Mexico City and points north. Since then, Cuautitlan has become a crowded part of Greater Mexico City, but the tianguis is still in the same place and operated more or less in the same manner. This market congregates 7,500 vendors from various municipalities and states such as Michoacán, Puebla, Pachuca and the municipalities of northern Mexico State. It extends over 250,000 m2. There are efforts to move it away from the center and near the municipal border with Tultitlán, but the merchants have refused to be moved.
Due to the change in tastes needs of customers, urban tianguis focus on different merchandise. Produce and other basic staples are still offered, but other items are far more likely to be manufactured items such as electronics, name brand clothing and other wares. Relatively few crafts or agricultural items are offered in most city tianguis.Merchandise mostly concentrate on more modern and manufactured items, such as clothing, purses, beauty products, electronics and hand appliances. Those who sell audio and video CDs, a lucrative business, will often have large loudspeakers playing samples of their wares at very high volume.
Mexico’s two largest cities, Mexico City and Guadalajara, have large number of tianguis that employ many people. Officially, Guadalajara has 143 registered tianguis in the city, with no new ones approved since 1997. These tianguis have over 40,000 stalls combined. These stalls pay a nominal fee of between 2.5 and 3 pesos per square meter for the right to be there.About half of the tianguis in Guadalajara operate once a week, about 15% every two weeks and the rest about once a month. In Guadalajara, it is estimated that approximately 95,000 people work in this sector.
In Mexico City, there are 1,066 officially recognized tianguis controlled by 600 tianguis associations, each of whom has between forty and six hundred members. Hundreds of these close entire streets at least one day a week. These tianguis employ about 130,000 people.These markets are regulated by the Secretaria de Desarrollo Economico and by the Secretaria de Economia Federal. Most tianguis vendors are located in the borough of Iztapalapa, where they make up about one third of the total. This borough contains 304 tianguis markets convene during the week with Gustave A. Madero coming second with 160. Sunday is the busiest day for tianguis, and Tuesday is the slowest.
The largest tianguis in Mexico City is San Felipe de Jesus, which is located on the border of Gustavo A. Madero and Tlalnepantla. This market has been in operation for over forty years, covers 17 km and has 17,000 merchants, which offer their wares from Tuesday to Saturday. This is one of the least governmentally supervised markets due to the fact that it stretches over both the Federal District and the State of Mexico.
Local governments have the authority to inspect and regulate the businesses that operate in tianguis.Regulations such as Article 52 of the Reglamento Interior de la Administration Publica of the Federal District, are supposed to regulate when and where these events take place as well as inspecting locales and products for sale. Vendors can be removed if they exceed the limits set, but many cities have trouble enforcing this, leading to traffic jams. Regulation, such as the checking of scales, and cooking equipment in food stalls, is scarce. Vendors in tianguis are liable under all consumer protection laws as well. However, many authorities readily admit that they do not have the manpower to enforce laws and regulations in large, crowded and numerous tianguis, although raids are performed sporadically, especially looking for stolen and counterfeit merchandise. Stolen merchandise, especially electronics, and unauthorized CDs and DVDs is the largest criminal activity found in tianguis, with copying of CDs and DVDS one of the most lucrative businesses. Tianguis sellers can be quite sophisticated. According to Iztalapalpa officials, vendors at the El Salado tianguis set up shop as early as 4 or 5 am in order to receive stolen and other merchandise from trucks behind the Unidad Habitacional Concordia Zaragaza housing complex, and use radios to communicate and watch out for authorities Officials claim there are at least ten places in the market that sell drugs and two that sell guns. Much of the allegedly stolen merchandise consists of computer equipment and handheld gadgets such as iPods. The sale of stolen merchandise such as this is popular because it can cost about half of what it does in legal channels. Counterfeit perfumes are a specialty of the tianguis Del Rosal in Colonia Los Angeles. Empty bottles of the real merchandise are bought by the vendors and then filled with the counterfeit perfume. PROFECO, Mexico’s consumer protection agency, advises strong caution when shopping in tianguis as it is extremely difficult to help those who have been a victim of fraud. Another problem is the sale of vehicles that are stolen or illegally imported from the United States. This problem is serious enough to warrant the vigilance of the Procuraduria General de Justicia of Mexico City and special warnings by PROFECO. Restricted items such as medicines, cigarettes and alcohol are also openly sold. Other available restricted merchandise includes fireworks, blades, knives, pornography, endangered species, and smuggled goods. Other articles include hoods, tear gas, fake guns, and sometimes even real guns. Medicines from the government health service can be found in El Salado, which is held on Wednesdays on Calzada Zaragosa. Patches and uniforms from services such as city police and firemen, as well as the electric company and Telmex can be found as well. Lastly, pickpocketing and assault on both merchants and customers is not unknown.
Many tianguis have problems in the neighborhoods they occupy. These events are accused of “devouring” streets as regulated and non/regulated ones grow and multiply.The main problem with tianguis is that merchants spread out their wares over sidewalks and other public spaces beyond where they are authorized, blocking pedestrian and vehicular traffic. These places can measure four by four meters on city streets. Monterrey Street in the Del Valle neighborhood of Mexico City is cut from six lanes to three lanes on tianguis days. Another problem is that they block scarce parking space. Residents complain about noise and odor. Lastly, at the end of the day after the stands are taken down and brought home, tons of garbage is left behind, and in areas where market activity is frequent, infrastructure such as light poles and sidewalks are damaged.
Despite the problems and despite the fact that tianguis merchants do not pay taxes, rent or services (however bribes are paid to many city officials) like established businesses do, eliminating them or even moving them is very difficult due to the large number of people they employ and their firm place in the culture. Attempts to remove illegally placed merchants or move tianguis entirely generally meet with protest. For about 34 years, the area around the permanent Mercado Juarez had been the scene of one of the largest tianguis in the city of Toluca, operating more or less every day. On weekends, the number of vendors was as high as 2,800. More than 1,100 police were needed to forcibly remove 560 stands from the triangular plaza in front of Mercado Juarez and the four blocks surrounding it. To prevent the vendors from returning, the entire plaza was back hoed and a large fence installed around the plaza. Police patrolled it and the four-block area for weeks afterwards. While there was no violence, tensions were high and there were verbal protests. The clearing of this tianguis was done to alleviate traffic problems in this part of the city, with vendors offered new space at the site of the old airport. In some areas, such as Tepito in Mexico City, almost the entire neighborhood is employed as informal merchants with even more that come in to sell. This market has a long tradition here and is the largest and most vibrant in the city in the 21st century.
Many occasional and some semi permanent tianguis are specialty markets, either specializing in one type of good or are set up for a specific season. One semi permanent market is the “Fashion Tianguis,” with about fifty vendors who sell clothing each weekend at Parque México in Mexico City. Most are true designer labels from various countries, including Mexico. Merchandise includes many ítems that have not sold in upscale stores. Other tianguis that specialize in fashion include Plaza Cibeles on weekends, La Lagunilla on Sundays, and Del Chopo on Saturdays. The last specializes in “dark” and Gothic fashion .The city of Tonalá, Jalisco, sponsors a tianguis adjacent to the permanent market, which is restricted mostly to vendors who sell locally made pottery and other craft items. It is called the Tianuges de Artesanos. A number of cities such as Monterrey, and Guadalajara have tianguis that operate only to sell used cars.
The open air art market of San Ángel has occurred every Saturday morning since 1964 and sells mostly traditional and indigenous fine arts, created in Mexico. It is located in a tiny park named Plaza Tenanitla and is the oldest art market in Mexico City.Some of the artists and artisans are the children and grandchildren of the original founders of the market. While many of the artists live in Mexico City, a number travel from as far as the states of Puebla, Guerrero and Mexico State to sell. It is informally known as the Saturday Bazaar, but the association that runs it formally calls it the tianguis Artesanal Tenanitla. Most of the stalls still sell paintings and sculptures but other also sell crafts, snacks and antiques.
Seasonal tianguis serve needs for holidays and other annual events. In San Pablo Tultepec, there is a tianguis of fireworks in August and the first part of September before the annual Independence Day celebrations in Mexico. It is located on the entrance to the town from the highway between Toluca and Mexico City. Everything from sparklers to complicated sets with moving parts are sold. This market operates with licenses from the State of Mexico as well as from the Secretariat of National Defense.In Saltillo every Thursday during Lent, there is a tianguis devoted entirely to fish and seafood, partially sponsored by the federal Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food agency. A number of municipalities, such as Hermosillo, Tepic, Xalapa and Celaya, sponsor tianguis for back-to-school, in order to allow parents to buy uniforms, school supplies and other needs at lower prices. Credit is also offered to customers at these events. The most important seasonal tianguis are for the Christmas holiday season, which runs from late November to January 6. From near Christmas Eve up until Epiphany, many of these stalls are open from early in the morning to very late at night. Most of the merchandise revolves around items for nativity scenes and Christmas trees. Trees are sold as well, with taxis and men with hand trucks nearby to hire.
Some tianguis can be a tourist attraction in themselves. Every year the indigenous and folk art tianguis is held in Uruapan during Holy Week, which is a major vacation time in Mexico. Over twelve hundred artisans come to the city on the large main plaza to sell. The promotional literature states that it is the largest tianguis of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, and is accompanied by arts contests, parades and banquets. This event is one of the top five for the state of Michoacan and accounts for 15% to 20% of the income this small city makes each year.
Cuauhtémoc, named after the former Aztec leader, is one of the 16 boroughs of Mexico City. It consists of the oldest parts of the city, extending over what was the entire city in the 1920s. This area is the historic and cultural center of the city, although it is not the geographical center. While it ranks only sixth in population, it generates about a third of the entire city's GDP, mostly through commerce and services. It is home to the Mexican Stock Exchange, the important tourist attractions of the historic center and Zona Rosa, and various skyscrapers such as the Torre Mayor and the Mexican headquarters of HSBC. It also contains numerous museums, libraries, government offices, markets and other commercial centers which can bring in as many as 5 million people each day to work, shop or visit cultural sites. This area has had problems with urban decay, especially in the historic center. Efforts to revitalize the historic center and some other areas have been ongoing since the 1990s, by both government and private entities. Such efforts have resulted in better public parks, such as the Alameda Central, which was renovated; the modification of streets such as 16 de Septiembre and Madero that have become exclusive for pedestrians.
A flea market is a type of street market that provides space for vendors to sell previously-owned (second-hand) merchandise. This type of market is often seasonal. However, in recent years there has been the development of 'formal' and 'casual' markets which divides a fixed-style market (formal) with long-term leases and a seasonal-style market with short-term leases. Consistently, there tends to be an emphasis on sustainable consumption whereby items such as used goods, collectibles, antiques and vintage clothing can be purchased.
A hawker is a vendor of merchandise that can be easily transported; the term is roughly synonymous with costermonger or peddler. In most places where the term is used, a hawker sells inexpensive goods, handicrafts, or food items. Whether stationary or mobile, hawkers often advertise by loud street cries or chants, and conduct banter with customers, to attract attention and enhance sales.
Tepito is a barrio located in Colonia Morelos in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City bordered by Avenida del Trabajo, Paseo de la Reforma, Eje 1 and Eje 2. Most of the neighborhood is taken up by the colorful tianguis, a traditional open-air market. Tepito's economy has been linked to the tianguis since pre-Hispanic times.
A market, or marketplace, is a location where people regularly gather for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other goods. In different parts of the world, a market place may be described as a souk, bazaar, a fixed mercado (Spanish), or itinerant tianguis (Mexico), or palengke (Philippines). Some markets operate daily and are said to be permanent markets while others are held once a week or on less frequent specified days such as festival days and are said to be periodic markets. The form that a market adopts depends on its locality's population, culture, ambient and geographic conditions. The term market covers many types of trading, as market squares, market halls and food halls, and their different varieties. Due to this, marketplaces can be situated both outdoors and indoors.
Tlacolula de Matamoros is a city and municipality in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, about 30 km from the center of the city of Oaxaca on Federal Highway 190, which leads east to Mitla and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is part of the Tlacolula District in the east of the Valles Centrales Region.
Mercado Libertad, better known as Mercado San Juan de Dios is located in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. It is the largest indoor market in Latin America with an area of 40,000 m².
The Abelardo L. Rodriguez Market is a traditional public market located in the historic center of Mexico City, northeast of the main plaza, or Zocalo. It was built in 1934 as a prototype for a more modern marketplace and has a number of unusual features such as day care and an auditorium. However, the market's most distinctive feature is the approximately 1,450 square metres of wall and ceiling space covered in murals. These murals were painted by students of Diego Rivera and under his supervision. The works mostly reflect socialist themes, such as the exploitation of workers, peasants and miners, the fight against Nazism and fascism, and racial discrimination. Earthquakes, time, humidity and vandalism took their toll on the murals from the time they were painted until restoration began in January 2009. Restoration work is expected to take almost two years.
The La Merced Market is a traditional public market located in the eastern edge of the historic center of Mexico City and is the largest retail traditional food market in the entire city. The area, also called La Merced, has been synonymous with commercial activity since the early colonial period when traders arrived here from other parts of New Spain. At one time, nearly the entire neighborhood was filled with market stalls and in the 1860s it was decided to build a permanent market on the grounds of the old La Merced monastery. In the first half of the 20th century, this market was the major wholesaler for the entire city. This ended when the Central de Abasto was opened in the 1980s, but La Merced remains the largest traditional retail market. The market area is also known for flagrant prostitution in which women can be seen soliciting at all hours of the day and night. It is estimated that about one third of these prostitutes are underage.
Colonia Morelos is a colonia located just north of the historic center of Mexico City in the Cuauhtémoc borough. It has been a poor area since Aztec times, with many residents today living in large tenements called vecindades. The area, particularly the Tepito neighborhood, is known for crime, especially the sale of stolen merchandise and drugs. It is home to the very large Tepito tianguis or market, and also has two major places of worship dedicated to Santa Muerte.
Colonia Peralvillo is a colonia located in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City, just northwest of the city's historic center. It has been a poor area since colonial times, but the modern colonia was not established until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the area has been the setting for a number of literary works and films, today the area is known for violence and crime, especially shootings and the selling of stolen auto parts.
The Central de Abasto is Mexico City’s main wholesale market for produce and other foodstuffs run similarly to traditional public markets. It was constructed to be the meeting point for producers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers for the entire country. Located in the eastern borough of Iztapalapa, it is the most important commercial establishment in Mexico and the largest of its kind in the world. The market handles over 30,000 tons of merchandise daily, representing 80% of the consumption of the Mexico City metropolitan area. The market was established on former farmland to ease congestion in the historic center of Mexico City.
Mercado de Sonora is a city-established traditional market, located just southeast of the historic center of Mexico City in the Colonia Merced Balbuena neighborhood. It was established in the 1950s with a number of other similar institutions in order to help regulate retail commerce in the city. This market has specialized in a variety of merchandise such as pottery, party items, and live animals — and the two which make it notable, herbal medicine and items related to magic and the occult.
Mercado Jamaica is one of Mexico City’s traditional public markets where various vendors sell their wares in an established location. This market begat in the 1950s as part of efforts to urbanize the markets in the area. The market is located on the corner of Congreso de la Union and Avenida Morelos, just southeast of the historic center of the city. Although it is one of the main markets for souvenirs, produce and meat, it is best known for its flowers and ornamental plants. There are 1,150 stands dedicated to the selling of cut flowers, flower arrangements, ornamental plants and accessories such as flowerpots. The market offers about 5,000 types of flowers and plants, mostly foreign, but there is a number of native Mexican species available, including some gathered directly from the wild.
La Lagunilla Market is a traditional public market in Mexico City, located about ten blocks north of the city's main plaza, in a neighborhood called La Lagunilla. The market is one of the largest in the city and consists of three sections: one for clothing, one for furniture and one for foodstuffs, mostly selling to lower income customers. The market is surrounded by small stores and street vendors, many specializing in furniture and dresses and other needs for formal occasions. On Sundays, the number of street vendors grows significantly, a weekly “tianguis” market called a baratillo which traditionally sells used items. One section of this baratillo has developed into a market for antiques, which has attracted higher income customers and even famous ones such as Carlos Monsiváis.
Traditional fixed markets in Mexico are multiple-vendor markets permanently housed in a fixed location. They go by a variety of names such as "mercados públicos", "mercados municipales" or even more often simply "mercados" (markets). These markets are distinct from others in that they are almost always housed in buildings owned and operated by the local government, with numerous stands inside rented by individual merchants, who usually sell produce and other basic food staples. This market developed in Mexico as a way to regulate pre Hispanic markets called tianguis. These tianguis markets remain in Mexico, with the most traditional held on certain days, put up and taken down the same day, much the way it was done in Mesoamerica.
The Michoacán Market is a “mercado público" or traditional retail food market located in Condesa, one of the more prestigious districts of Mexico City. It is located between Avenida Michoacán, Avenida Vicente Suárez, and Avenida Tamaulipas streets, where three intersect.
The presence of street vendors in Mexico City dates back to pre-Hispanic era and over the centuries the government has struggled to control it, with most recently a clearing of downtown streets of vendors in 2007, but despite this there is a persistent presence of many thousands illegally. Even after oscillating between the realms of legality and illegality, street vending in Mexico and even in other parts of the world, is not the exception but rather has been a norm when it comes to commercial activities. In 2003, it was estimated that there were 199,328 street vendors in Mexico City.
The San Juan Market is a traditional Mexican market in the historic center of Mexico City that has become the city’s only such market specializing in gourmet and exotic foods. It is known for its selection of exotic meats, including venison, crocodile, wild boar and even lion meat, as well as a wide selection of products from Europe and the Americas. Unlike other such markets in Mexico City, it caters to chefs, restaurateurs and foodies, many of whom are foreigners and have long-standing relationships with particular vendors.
Handcrafts and folk art in Mexico City is a microcosm of handcraft production in most of the rest of country. One reason for this is that the city has attracted migration from other parts of Mexico, bringing these crafts. The most important handcraft in the city is the working of a hard paper mache called cartonería, used to make piñatas and other items related to various annual celebrations. It is also used to make fantastic creatures called alebrijes, which originated here in the 20th century. While there are handcrafts made in the city, the capital is better known for selling and promoting crafts from other parts of the country, both fine, very traditional wares and inexpensive curio types, in outlets from fine shops to street markets.