Home News The Mercado de Maravillas, hunting for the young public

The Mercado de Maravillas, hunting for the young public

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The Mercado de Maravillas, hunting for the young public

It is impossible to talk about the history of our city and not refer to its municipal markets. These have been key to its development for years and have been part of the lives of many Madrid residents and visitors. And the thing is, who hasn’t ever visited one or has someone around them who has? For decades, for many people, they were an obligatory daily stop, a meeting point and a trusted space where they could purchase the best products to fill their pantries. Something that, unfortunately, has been diluted. At a time when large stores, frenetic pace and immediacy are the protagonists of our daily lives, LA RAZÓN wants to pay tribute to all of them with a series of reports. In them, we will learn first-hand about their history, the people who keep them alive and thus demonstrate that they continue to be a safe bet where quality, excellence and affection are their main characteristics.

Currently, there are eighteen municipally owned markets that are still standing and spread throughout the region. One of them is the largest in Europe with its 22,000 square meters of surface. The Market of Wonders (Bravo Murillo, 122) It opened its doors in 1942, on the same land where the Casimiro Mahou wallpaper factory was located, predecessor of the family that would later found the famous beer. From the factory it became a school, Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, from which it would take its name when it was established as a market and whose structure would arrive after years of street sales.

Over the years, the market has evolved but maintains a very marked personality, almost from another era, which with the passage of time has only been reinforced more. It is still home to third-generation merchants, who frequented the market when they did not yet know how to walk and whose stalls and aisles have witnessed its growth. One of them is Fernando Menéndez, son of a butcher and second generation of merchant in Maravillas. Seven and a half years ago he took the reins of the family business and understood that it was time to differentiate and specialize. “I have tried to fight for different products, of the highest quality and that make a difference, it is the only way to endure in these times,” he confidently confesses to this newspaper. This is how he founded Gourmad, a high-quality sausage stand in which cheeses are its strong point. «I greatly encourage small producers, I always say that what I sell are pieces of soul and stories. All products have their “that” and their “why.”

Report on butcher shops, fishmongers, fruit shops and chicken shops in the Maravillas Market in the Madrid neighborhood of c
Report on butcher shops, fishmongers, fruit shops and chicken shops in the Maravillas Market in the Madrid neighborhood of cAlberto R. RoldánPhotographers

He compares his life in the market to love, “sometimes good and other times bad, but that’s life.” However, he is sure that what differentiates them from other markets is quality, variety and prices. «In this you find things that are not found in other places. Small businesses must specialize and try to offer customers products that they cannot buy anywhere else.. Through hard work he says he has earned a good reputation, having achieved a loyal clientele who trust him with their eyes closed. Something that had never happened to her before. Regarding the future, he is positive and assures that the only secret is “not to stop working, nor let your guard down, life is for fighting.”

Although at a business level, the Maravillas Market is in good health, 10,000 people pass through it daily and it is one of the few in Madrid that maintains 90% of fresh product stalls, there are several fronts that are open. One of its current great “handicaps” is infrastructure and lack of investment. They have already made an important effort to comply with fire protection regulations, but they still need to improve in terms of recycling and the lack of professionals in the sector. “The City Council recently approved promoting training for this type of professions and we are already working on ways to promote these trades to maintain quality,” explains Ander Zumeta., Market Manager. Something that, added to the limited generational change, worries merchants.

Report on butcher shops, fishmongers, fruit shops and chicken shops in the Maravillas Market in the Madrid neighborhood of c
Report on butcher shops, fishmongers, fruit shops and chicken shops in the Maravillas Market in the Madrid neighborhood of cAlberto R. RoldánPhotographers

“We are going through difficult times, the crises affect us a lot and from Christmas to here we are very calm… It is something general, I see it in Mercamadrid, they do not have sales for everyone,” says Hilario Rodríguez, owner of Liébana Arias Pescados y Mariscos. Although he says his 35 years in the market have been very hard because it is a “very sacrificed” profession, he is a faithful defender of products “of all qualities and prices” and the good work of market professionals. «People who understand and want to eat well come here, they want you to advise them and they leave calm, because they know that you are going to give them the best. The result is that they always come back.

One of the advantages of this market is that it has a very varied audience. In recent years, the presence of young people and Latino audiences has increased. With this, a significant number of stalls with food and products from these countries have emerged. Yenniret De Sousa is an example of this, about to celebrate three years with her position Delicias de Caracas. «We lived in the neighborhood, we frequented it a lot and we liked the atmosphere of this market. We already had in mind to set up a store selling typical products and the opportunity arose,” he says. It is not only Latinos who come there interested in the sweets, spices or legumes typical of these countries.

Report on butcher shops, fishmongers, fruit shops and chicken shops in the Maravillas Market in the Madrid neighborhood of c
Report on butcher shops, fishmongers, fruit shops and chicken shops in the Maravillas Market in the Madrid neighborhood of cAlberto R. RoldánPhotographers

The target audience that continues to resist them is the youngest. Through social networks, they try to make them aware that they are missing something very important: that wisdom that is transmitted from the professionals of these unions and a value that we cannot let bite, due to fear, lack of habit or ignorance. Go to the markets, they have everything you are looking for.

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