By Emily Thompson | BSU at the Games
Just outside the London Bridge Tube station sits a quaint little market. Although usually open just three days a week, Borough Market currently is open every day to accommodate visitors for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“I just imagine that [the market] wanted to be open to show people a little bit of what we can do in the hope that people will come back to London,” says Martine Coker, who has worked on and off at the market for 10 years.
As customers walk through an arch, under the bridge and into the first section of the market (Green Market), they’re greeted with smells of foods from all over the world: French bread, Croatian olive oil, Indian tea, Colombian coffee, British meat and more. The scents draw both tourists and locals in from the surrounding streets.
Cathedral Street divides the market into two: the second part (Jubilee Market) is covered and has a much more industrial look.
The food inside looks as though it’s been set up for pictures. The vegetables all have deep-green-colored leaves, whole fish are set on piles of ice, and bright, colorful candies are arranged in piles on display.
On a Friday or Saturday, especially during lunchtime, the market is as crowded as many tourist attractions in London. Not one employee seems to have downtime, as customers queue in front of each stand to sample or buy various foods and beverages.
But Coker, who works most often at the Utobeer vendor, says that more people does not always mean more business.
“Generally when tourists buy something, they’ve got to take it back to their hotel room,” she says. “So they can’t buy lots and lots of things and carry them all. They just get one beer from the fridge or one juice, rather than a large amount.”
On a Monday or Tuesday, business is much slower, even during the Olympic Games. Although the market as a whole has chosen to stay open all week, not every vendor is open on these slow days.
“[Londoners] been warned about traffic and public transport [being busy], so people haven’t really been coming out,” says Coker. “We’ve been having less regulars.”
But not all locals have abandoned the market during this hectic time. Londoners Hannah O’Reilly and Rory Connolly say that they aren’t visiting as often but still enjoy coming to Borough Market for the experience.
“You can come and see the old London under here,” O’Reilly says. “That’s what I’ve always loved about this place, and I never get bored of it. So for tourists, this would be a real good place to come.”
“Lots might choose Oxford Street, but I’d rather come to little places like this,” says Connolly. “You get good food.”
“Yeah, and culture—good English culture,” says O’Reilly.
Marcel Wallace, who works at the Flat Cap Coffee Co. cart, says he understands why the market attracts tourists.
“It’s a good place for tourists to go to see a different side of London,” says Wallace. “You’ve got things you can’t really buy in other parts of London. It’s very international as well. But also, there’s the best of British here as well. So it’s a great mix.”
And although Martine Crocker says that in the beginning, she wasn’t thrilled about the Olympic Games and the changes they meant for London and for the market, she’s come to enjoy the experience of living and working in this year’s host city.
“I was definitely a cynic, and now I’m enjoying the sports on the tele,” she says. “I’m enjoying what London means to the Olympics, what it’s telling everyone else around the world about London.”
Emily Thompson is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at@ekthompson2410, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.