Bootleg bargains, a poke of chips, and a good rummage in a sea of musty garments; The Barras was braw.
For those of us lucky enough to have experienced the jaunty jumbo-sale, visiting the Saturday market at the Barras, or its notorious brother site, The Briggait – more affectionately known as Paddy’s Market – was a rite of passage.
Glasgow is a culture that prides itself on banter and benevolence, both of which could be found in spades – or somewhere beneath the rubble – at the markets. Throw-away culture seemed not to exist back then. Everything felt recycled and passed on, shared or swapped. The markets were a one-size-fits-all, a real community of commerce.
Nowadays, if you want to go to market, you’ll need to sign up for an Eventbrite account first. But If it’s cheap kit you’re after, you can get your quick-fix at your local charity shop; just don’t get your hopes up for that vinegar-soaked poke, or wee granny gossip’s theory of relativity.
Over the years, the trading landscape in Glasgow has been transformed by big names on the high street. Recently, Canadian coffee giants Tim Hortons have accumulated a staggering 6 stores since arriving in Glasgow in June 2017, and German Doner Kebab has put the kibosh on the competition by choosing to expand in Glasgow.
It’s clear that Glasgow is synonymous with culture and industry, but what makes it so? Perhaps it’s our second-to-none ability to hunt for a bargain, even if it takes all day; and it usually does.
Barter and Banter
Today, market culture has metamorphosed again, now in the guise of a retail park. The indoor outlets have the same philosophy at heart, presenting those who ‘seek the loot’ with myriad discount goods, and all under one proverbial roof; no rummaging required
Typically, such retail parks are populated by discount companies such as Home Bargains, and B&M, both of which have been fortunate this year, seeing a ‘rise in demand’ for goods, and based on their ever-increasing store count, their expansion surely solidifying their future success, according to the Local Data Company’s figures.
Interestingly, in the same report, it was noted that ‘25 charity shops in Scotland were lost in the first half of 2018’, which could mark yet another change in market culture, as the commercialisation of charity comes to the high street.
Without a doubt, retail parks are great for fulfilling most of our shopping needs, and at comparatively lower prices than their high street competitors, but still, something is amiss. Has the legitimacy of our branded goods ruined our collective fun?
Market culture today pales in comparison to that of my youth. And while the reduced section in Tesco can on occasion set my heart aflutter when the right bargain comes along, it fails to evoke the same sense of adventure that getting up at an ungodly hour (thanks, Gran) to make our way to market did.
I suppose if you were desperate enough to recreate the good old days, you could attempt to haggle it down at your local supermarket, but I dare say it would draw you some funny looks from the impatient crowd.
But let’s face it, at the speed those blackjack dealers move at, the only deal you’re in for is a swift boot to the leg.