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PARIS has one of the most skilfully organized munic.i.p.al market systems in Europe. The chief food distribution center for the 3,000,000 Parisians is established at the Halles Centrales, a series of ten pavilions covering twenty-two acres of ground and intervening streets.
Altogether this great terminal market has cost the city more than $10,000,000.
Most of the pavilions are entirely for the wholesale trade, but some are used as retail markets to a limited extent. Retail traders are being decreased gradually, so that whereas in 1904 there were 1,164 retail stands there are now only 856.
The total receipts of the Halles Centrales and thirty local markets amount to $2,100,000, of which _about $1,000,000 is profit_. There is a general advance in the wholesale trade, but the local covered markets or marches de quartier, are not progressing in the same way, so the city does not quite maintain a steady level of market profit.
[Ill.u.s.tration: THE HALLES CENTRALES, PARIS
An Outside View, Showing How the Supplies Overflow into the Adjacent Streets, Notwithstanding the Provision of Twenty-two Acres of Covered Pavilions.]
The reasons given for the falling off of the retail trade are various, but the princ.i.p.al causes appear to be (1) the growth of big stores, with local branches, that deliver the goods at the door, thus relieving the purchaser of the necessity of taking home market supplies; (2) the number of perambulating produce salesmen, who sell from carts in the street at low rates, having neither store rent nor market tolls to pay, and (3) the growth of co-operative societies.
A complicated and severe code of regulations governs the markets.
Commission salesmen at the Halles Centrales must be French citizens of unblemished record and must give a bond of not less than $1,000 in proof of solvency. Producers may have their supplies sold either at auction or by private treaty, as they prefer, and as none of the agents are allowed to do business for themselves the distant growers have confidence in the market methods.
In the retail markets each dealer in fresh meat pays just under $6.00 a week in all, while dealers in salted meats, fish, game and vegetables pay a much lower rate. All, however, in the covered markets pay three taxes--one for the right to occupy a stand, one for the cleaning and arranging of the markets, and one for the maintenance of guardians and officials. In the open markets the stands are rented by the day, week, or year, the rate for the day ranging from ten to thirty cents, according to s.p.a.ce. Several of these local markets have charters dating back to pre-revolution days, that cannot now be annulled.
It would be difficult to devise a more thorough system of inspection.
An average year's seizures include half a million pounds of meat, 17,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables and half a million pounds of salt water fish.
Thus the Paris market arrangements provide an admirable central clearing house, where supplies are inspected and sold under such conditions as to prevent the artificial raising of prices. It also acts as a feeder to the marches de quartier, to the great convenience of local consumers. Moreover the producer is safeguarded, for on his supplies a small fixed percentage only can be charged by the salesman, and the current market prices are made public by agents especially detailed for that purpose.
HAVRE, the well-known French seaport, with a population of 130,000, has a profit of over six per cent on the Halles Centrales and ten per cent on the fish market. All told there is _a profit of $27,000_ on the twelve munic.i.p.al markets.
[Ill.u.s.tration: KEEN MORNING BUYERS
In the Game Section of the Paris Halles Centrales.]
The Halles Centrales occupy an entire square in the center of the city and cost $75,000, exclusive of the site. Gardeners and farmers are not permitted to sell their produce on the way to the market and are only allowed to deliver to storekeepers after the wholesale markets are closed. Here, as elsewhere where the markets are successful, every precaution is taken to avoid the prosperity of the market being dissipated by sales in the surrounding neighborhood. The annual rents for butchers are very moderate, ranging from $57.90 to $154.40, vegetable dealers $42.85 to $92.64; dairy produce dealers $52.11 to $85.11, fishmongers $23.16 to $86.85. In the wholesale markets there is an annual trade turnover worth well above $1,000,000, of which fish represents $280,000. So far from the fishermen finding the fish market detrimental to their interests, they welcome it and cheerfully observe the rule forbidding sales on the quays or transit sheds except under special permits.
LYONS, with a population of half a million, may be taken as the best example of a flourishing French provincial city at a considerable distance from the sea. The princ.i.p.al market, La Halle, is known all over France for its public auctions. Accommodation is provided for 276 stalls, rented at 14 cents a day per square meter for fruit, vegetables and cheese, while other stalls for meat and fish are rented at 33 cents per square meter.
At the morning auctions, held at the rear of the hall, are sold immense quant.i.ties of fish, oysters, lobsters, game, poultry, b.u.t.ter, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables. There is a rule that all supplies must come from outside Lyons, so that local store men cannot there dispose of surplus stocks, but dealers in other French cities often thus relieve themselves when overloaded. These auctions not only enable local dealers to distribute supplies at cheap rates to the small stores all over the city, but wide awake housewives can frequently tell just what the stores gave wholesale for the produce offered to them retail later in the day, so a check can be kept on overcharges.
The auctioneers are given a monopoly of selling for ten years, on binding themselves to pay to the city a sum equal to two per cent on the total annual sales. The minimum is fixed at $1,930 for one stand or $5,650 for four stands, to be paid to the munic.i.p.al treasury. Two per cent is added to the purchase price of every payment made by buyers at auction, and if this does not amount to $1,930 per stand for the year, the auctioneer has to make up the difference. The poorer cla.s.ses benefit largely by these sales, banding together to buy wholesale and then dividing their purchases.
[Ill.u.s.tration: A DRASTIC INSPECTION
Of Refrigerated Chinese Pork at the Port of Liverpool.]
There are also seventeen markets for general retail trade in Lyons. The Terminal Market of La Halle cost the city $886,980. The company which built it was given a concession for fifty years, on a division of profits arrangement, but within sixteen months the utility of the market as an advantageous enterprise for the city was so clearly demonstrated that the munic.i.p.ality bought the company out.
VIENNA, with 1,700,000 people to supply, has a magnificently managed system of forty-five markets, seven of which are located in large, well-ventilated halls, all kept spotlessly clean.
Market commissioners appointed by the munic.i.p.ality conduct the business of the markets according to strict regulations, enforcing a rigid inspection of all products as well as weights and measures. Violations of these rules are punishable by fines of about $2.00, imprisonment for 24 hours or exclusion from the markets. Such penalties are enforced when buyers are defrauded, dealers oppose the market authority, or exceed the charges that are posted in the market.
Not merely land and water produce, but general farm and household requisites, are sold at these markets. Outside buying is strictly controlled, owners of boats on the Danube or wagons on the public streets paying toll to the munic.i.p.ality on any sales.
_Over $60,000 profit_ is the average annual yield of the markets to the city treasury, and it is generally agreed that the market system tends to keep down the price of foodstuffs to normal levels.
BUDA-PESTH has 715,000 people and a very complete market system, under which, though only nominal rentals are charged, there is _a profit of over $100,000_.
There is one large wholesale terminal market, while six local markets cater for the retail requirements of all quarters of the city. All salesmen are carefully selected; criminals and diseased persons being rigidly excluded. Though a wide variety of articles are sold in the smaller markets besides farm produce, storekeepers are not allowed to rent stalls, so the market men and farmers alone have the use of the buildings. The regulations under which they trade were drawn up by a market commission and confirmed by ministerial decrees. These regulations are regarded in Europe as a model of comprehensiveness and their observance ensures close attention to hygiene. Among the rules is one insisting on the placing of all waste paper in the public refuse receptacles, while another compels the use of new, clean paper only in wrapping up food products.
Stalls are rented from four to ten cents a day, according to the accommodation. Supplies come by boat, rail and wagon, and when there is pressure on the interior market s.p.a.ce sales are allowed from the boats and wagons at a toll of ten cents a day. Otherwise only merchandise is allowed to be sold outside the market halls. Not only must no fish, game, meat or poultry be sold without first being pa.s.sed by the veterinary inspectors, but none of these articles of diet must be brought to market packed in straw, cloth or paper. Unripe fruit must not be sold to children.
Every day a bulletin issued by the market commission sets out the wholesale prices, while a weekly list gives the retail prices, but in the latter case the note is added that the market commission will not be responsible for any controversy that may arise. All the stocks held by the market traders are insured by the munic.i.p.ality, though not to their full value.
Not only have these markets proved beneficial to the consumers generally, but the market men are unanimous as to their advantage, for they afford a ready and inexpensive means of doing a large business.
AMSTERDAM, with a population of 510,000, has all the local markets under the control of the munic.i.p.ality. They are divided into five districts, each managed by a director or market master, responsible to the city council.
Two of the markets are covered, but the remainder are open and are situated by the side of the ca.n.a.ls, along which the produce is brought in boats from the farms around. On the administration of the markets in an average year there is _a profit of $36,000_, but there is a law against making a profit on munic.i.p.al enterprises, so the surplus is spent on local improvements.
ROTTERDAM, another great Dutch seaport, operates its markets under similar conditions and makes _a profit of $34,000_, of which $23,000 comes from the cattle and meat markets.
BRUSSELS, possessing a population of half a million, reaps considerable advantage from its picturesque munic.i.p.al markets, four of which are covered, while several are in the open air.
The renting of s.p.a.ce to standholders at the central market is according to the highest bidder, provided the price is not below $11.58 per month for meat, $9.65 for poultry and game, $5.79 for fruit, vegetables, b.u.t.ter and cheese.
Both producers and dealers sell at these markets, all their supplies being subjected to drastic inspection regulations. All meats are tested by the munic.i.p.al veterinary surgeon and his staff, while a communal chemist regulates the milk, b.u.t.ter and general dairy produce. The cleansing of the markets is done by the department of public cleanliness. Some of the public markets are managed by a contractor, who receives $250.90 a year for setting up the stalls and keeping them in good order. He deposits a security on undertaking his contract and in default of a satisfactory performance of his work the commune does it and charges him with it.