Mérida has long been known for its outdoor markets and bazaars. But since COVID-19 cases started to trend downward these sorts of events have really begun to proliferate like never before.
Part of the reason for this boom is that most folks have been closed indoors for so long and are looking for excuses to get out and about.
But the other major factor comes down to simple economics. Like in much of the world, the pandemic brought with it the collapse of countless businesses, especially in the service and hospitality sectors.
Workers who suddenly found themselves out of work began to look for alternate sources of income by creating small businesses that they could run themselves. Many of these activities include baking, cooking, and the creation of several types of crafts and accessories.
After a while, many of these entrepreneurs began to organize online and create collectives large and small to help them market and sell their products on social media.
The trend became particularly prominent among young women who came to be known as nenis. For a while there, the term took on some derogatory and classist connotations but is now widely used as a marker of pride.
“Some people like to throw around the term neni as if it was some sort of slur, but for me, it’s a point of pride. It’s about creating something from nothing and using your creativity to get ahead,” says Alejandra Crespo of Brujas MX, a local hair accessory brand.
As the number of new COVID-19 cases began to taper down, these collectives of independent sellers began to pop up all over the city, hosting their own outdoor markets and bazaars.
While some of these collectives are organized around a certain type of product, such as shoes, others are open to anyone wanting to participate — though a fee is usually required.
Though similar events have been hosted by city hall for many decades, many independent bazaars began to be set up at cultural centers, parks, as well as plazas, and other public and private spaces.
One of these more alternative bazaars, Mercada Latina, was held last weekend and featured entertainment provided by drag queens and other performers.
Some venues like the French-Moorish mansion El Minaret have decided to get into the action and host their own bazaars during the weekends, attracting vendors and customers from across town.
Most of these independent markets and bazaars are held on weekends and tend to attract a considerable number of buyers. However, some vendors feel that the market is beginning to get saturated, given the large number of events being held at the same time.