Marcel Mouisseau’s table of trinkets is front and centre at the Downtown Eastside Street Market, which is why he is sure to welcome every person who comes through the East Hastings location.
“I like to tell people to come in and have a coffee, make some friends and socialize,” says Mouisseau while making a sale.
He palms the loonie and holds it to his heart and then raises his arm above his head toward the sky saying a prayer in Ojibway.
Marcel is one of the hundreds of vendors who come to the DTES Street Market to sell their used or salvaged goods in an an outdoor paved lot between two buildings, rain or shine.
It’s cold and rainy on a winter day, but thanks to Central City Foundation donors, vendors such as Marcel have tables and tents to protect their wares, and volunteer staff have a storage container they can call an office.
Central City Foundation has been there right from the beginning, with coordinators of the market saying that CCF donors have really helped out with key equipment over the years.
The street market originated in Pigeon Park in 2010 to provide a safe and legal space for community vendors and has grown to include more than 150 vendors on any given Sunday and attracts up to 10,000 visitors.
In August 2015 the City of Vancouver announced ambitious plans to move the market from Pigeon Park to 501 Powell Street and expand activities to include a community event space (on days where the market is not open), and an open and inclusive Community Economic Development Hub that will include arts and crafts workshops, and micro storefronts on Jackson and Powell Street. The new street market has been successfully operating on Saturdays and an additional legal vending space at 62 East Hastings ensures additional outdoor opportunities a further five days a week.
CCF donors are helping with the development of the Powell Street location, which is expected to be fully open and operational in November 2016. The City is currently recruiting operators for the expanded street market and are hoping to include innovative pilot projects such as a market to be designed and led by women from the DTES.
The cost of living in Vancouver has increased exponentially in recent years, which hits the low income population the hardest. The DTES Street Market provides a place where people living in the inner city can buy items with convenience, but also allows them to support one another by buying directly from their neighbours.
For Marcel, selling his goods has not only given him more financial opportunity than he expected, but has also made him a fixture in the community. He enjoys being a familiar face at the market.
“I gained a lot of people’s trust,” said Marcel. “If I gain their trust, I gain their loyalty. I salute them and they salute me.”