A Day at the Market

Ian Zimmermann


October 7, 2009

“Ask 6 tomato vendors how much a pound of tomatoes costs. What is the disparity in pricing?”

This is one of over a dozen questions on a single sheet of paper we were handed in the main Antigua market. Beck, our Antigua contact with Social Entrepreneur Corps, gave us this survey as a means with which to begin to understand the many dynamics of the local marketplace.

As we went around to different vendors of various items — from nuts, to avocados, to pirated DVDs — we were forced to acknowledge the staunch discrepancies in pricing both between sellers and between buyers.

In general, the closer you get to the market’s entrance, the higher the price tends to rise. This is largely, in my opinion, because the closer you are to the entrance, the more gringos you have willing to pay top dollar for knock off merchandise. Even deep into the agricultural section, you notice price differences based on the quality of location of a set up, and on the race of the seller — Latinos charge much higher prices than people of indigenous descent.

Perhaps most noticeable is the ease with which someone unknowing would pay the gringo price for goods. Without really understanding how prices should fluctuate, and within what range (and I have very little comprehension myself), it’s impossible to pay a fair price for anything.

By the way, a pound of tomatoes ranged today from Q3.25 to Q6.00 — that averages roughly fifty cents in the States.

Ian Zimmermann