A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Market last in the afternoon on a Friday, looking for someone to talk to, when I wandered up to the Youngs Garden stand. I was pulled in that direction not so much because I wanted to strike up a conversation but more because I am always drawn to fresh herbs that are growing and thriving (I grow a few little things in my apartment, next to the window, but I dont have a lick of outdoor space).
After a moment of lustful moments of staring at the rosemary and thyme plants, I introduced myself to the woman behind the makeshift counter, who was tying up bundles of long-stemmed lilies. I told her about the project, and asked if she had any good stories. She considered the request for a second, before replying that she did have a good story, although it wasnt entirely hers.
More than ten years ago, she (Pam) and her husband (Russell) started a little herb business. They would sell their pots of herbs at markets and festivals, but it was hard to make a go of it without a steady location from which to sell (and often times the weather was terrible, which effected sales as well as their own dedication to the start-up). They played with the idea of trying to sell in Reading Terminal Market, but were intimidated by the established nature of the Market. It seemed nearly impenetrable to them.
However, one day they decided it couldnt hurt to ask and so Russell came in to talk to the Market manager (Pam stressed how nervous he was when he first came to ask). He wasnt there that day, but he was told to come back the following day, which he did. Russell talked to him and was told without formality or the jumping through of hoops that they were welcome to start the following day at a card table near Center Court. All that tension and worry turned out to be for nothing, they were in via a simple request.
The Youngs have been at the Market nearly ten years now. After establishing themselves with a table stand, they moved on to rent out the Buttermilk stall. The stall turned out to be a struggle for them and so late last year, they moved back to a table, this time using an old Reading Terminal luggage cart from the days when horses helped to pull the trunks and suitcases from the baggage holds, as the counter. It is easy to tell how much Pam loves the Market from the way she talks about her experiences there. She speaks about the institution and the management in the way that most people talk about friends and family.