What is a Public Market?

So what exactly is a Public Market?

Market Manager, Tiffani Emig, answers this:

Lots of cities have public markets – you might be familiar with Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, Pike Place in Seattle, or Chelsea Market in New York City. Perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to visit a public market in cities around the world like Montreal, Florence or Old Delhi.

Public markets can take various forms, and each is a unique reflection of the city where it’s located. No two public markets are the same, but there are a few things that define a public market and make it different from a local farmers market or chain supermarket.

1. A public market primarily sells food. Different public markets focus on different types of products, but typically, a shopper can find produce, meat, fish, dairy products, baked goods, coffee, spices, and various specialty and prepared foods. Some markets also sell flowers, beverages, crafts or other related non-food items.

2. A public market is open year-round. Unlike farmers markets, which often exist only seasonally and may pop up just once or twice a week, a public market is open daily, year-round, in a permanent location.

3. A public market is made up of small independent businesses, and each shop or stall is owner-operated. Rather than one company selling every item, like you would find in a supermarket, a public market features dozens of vendors selling food and other products they made themselves.

4. A public market fulfills a public purpose beyond retail food sales. A public market is more than just a place to shop; it provides customers with an experience. A public market is a bustling and vibrant place that brings people together to taste new flavors, learn from educational workshops and classes, watch the process of food being made, or develop new friendships. A public market is a civic resource for everyone.

You’ll find these things in public markets around the country and all over the world.

So what makes the Boston Public Market unique? It’s our focus on local food: connecting the public to farmers, fishermen, and food producers from Massachusetts and throughout New England. When it opens this summer, the Boston Public Market will be the only all locally sourced market of its kind and size in the United States.

Get a better idea by looking at out our photo album of public markets taken by the Boston Public Market staff.