It was announced that the Sungei Road Thieve’s market will be closed with effect from 11 July 2017. The Thieves’ Market started out as a black market where stolen, smuggled and illegal good was traded in the 1930s. The organic nature of the Thieves’ Market is a boon and a bane – it is chaotic and an eyesore for some; but it is it’s charm as well which is impossible to replicate elsewhere in Singapore. While heritage enthusiasts lament the impending loss, many of the hawkers accepted that it is just a matter of time before the market will be closed. There is no place for such a disorganised market in a highly organised, modern, and ‘sterile’ society such as Singapore.
On the other hand, there is a burgeoning of flea markets events organised, such as Art Box, Market of Artists And Designers (MAAD), Public Garden and so on. In a time which shopping malls are so ubiquitous, and online shopping is so common, many people are still willing to throng these places or events for a more personalised and less jaded shopping experience.
Over the weekend, my friend and I visited two different flea markets – the Thieves’ Market, and the Public Garden at Suntec City. While both serve a different target audiences, peddles different type of wares.
A flea market is more than a marketplace where the buyers and the sellers meet – it is place where interesting personalities get revealed through the interactions among the vendors, or between the vendors and the sellers. It allows the sellers to gather and connect as a community. It fosters entrepreneurship as the vendors gets feedback from their customers directly.
What draws people to such flea markets then and now is the sense of community, a sense of connection, identity and relationships.
Nowadays, our pace of life is so fast and our relationships are mostly transactional. People are like silt that flow through the river of life. A community is thus like a delta which is formed when the silt is deposited and built up overtime. It is harder to form an enduring community when the velocity of life and the process of modernisation is threatening to wash away the silt before it could accumulate and create something meaningful.
Just a muse.