As a retailer – I like to use the word “merchant” to signify someone who loves merchandise and loves customers – few places are as stimulating as the world’s food markets. 
Drop in on the Reading Terminal Market in Philly; the Candy Market in Morelia, Mexico; the entire old city of Fes, Morocco, which is one big marketplace, much of it food; the markets of Bangkok, Budapest, and Provence in Southern France.   Not only will you find the freshest and most interesting foods, you will see true merchandising at work. People who love their products and share that love with their customers. 
I have long said that the fundamental “secret” of Whole Foods Market, a company which I have followed since the opening of their second store, and where I once served on the Board of Directors, is no secret. The people who work at Whole Foods Market – from top to bottom – love every piece of chocolate and cheese, every olive and every sprout, and that love shows in their stores, their displays, and their attitude toward their customers and their fellow workers.
These thoughts apply to every type of merchandise, but food is the best place to start because it is so fundamental and so pervasive. Even the least entrepreneurial places on earth usually have people selling fruits, vegetables, tacos, or noodles to their neighbors or to strangers. Even Popsicles. And of course the smells and colors of food markets can be intense, even exotic.
Despite the role of food markets as sources of education, inspiration, and even nourishment, there are few if any books about them. One book I found, Food Markets of the World, by Nelli Sheffer and Mimi Sheraton (1997, Harry N. Abrams Publisher) is a wonderful book, but even it is out of print. Luckily, you can still find used or older copies of this beautiful, global, full-color tour of the world’s great food markets.  Just flipping through the pages is an education and inspiration. Every food lover, every marketer, really every curious person should find some joy in its pages.




  1. Hey Gary,

    I just got back from Spain and we traveled to Barcelona where they have a handful of markets, including the Mercat de la Boquería. I desperately wanted to go to this market because I’ve been told it is the best way to truly experience the local flavor of dishes a country has to offer as well as the culture. Unfortunately, I was injured running with the bulls in Pamplona and was bed ridden during most of my trip to Barcelona. There’s always next time.

    I’m a recent transplant from Austin to Minneapolis and I have been able to get out and explore the variety of foods offered up here. Also, being from Austin I know first hand about Whole Foods, although I think they are a little pricier than Central Market.


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