It was time again to stock up on some things, and so this past weekend I went to my usual places: the fish market in Pyrmont (where one employee asked me how work was going since the last time I saw him), the bakery in Coogee (where the owner told me how the surf was that day) and a stop for a long black at one of the many sidewalk cafes with a great view of the ocean in Bronte. There, I talked to a couple sitting next to me about some places in NYC they might want to visit on their upcoming trip to America. I wrote down the address of a couple of my old favorite haunts and they were off with, “Cheers, mate!”
On Sunday, I took a short ride over to the farmer’s market on the grounds of Fox Studios for some locally-grown produce (gotta get there early), then went into Chinatown for some loose Gunpowder green tea.
Sound like a lot of running around for just a few simple items? Not really. I get out for a couple hours, the distances aren’t really an issue, the scenery can’t be beat and I save a little money on what I buy.
But more importantly, I mix and mingle.
The value lies not in what you buy, or how much it costs; the true value is in simply reconnecting with other people.
Here in Australia, “small” merchants have not been run out of business by large, impersonal corporate franchises and “super-stores”. On the contrary: the small, privately-owned shops thrive, most people tend to buy local and – as a bonus – people get to know each other.
The atmosphere of a true village is alive and well with the ubiquitous cafes, intimate regional restaurants and independently-owned shops and markets offering everything you’d find in a supermarket or mall – but includes the opportunity for a more interpersonal experience.
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