The Market system is headed by Distribution and is the source for goods that Dalton residents cannot grow for themselves. Some in the more affluent sectors choose to buy more garden vegetables from the markets, but mostly they are a source of cloth, breads, leather goods, and other items that require special crafting.
Some farmers choose to contract directly through Distribution for their sales of goods. The upside of making such a contract is that the farmer’s goods are bought by the Citadel and sold by distribution employees. Distribution often sends carts directly to its contract farms. This means a farmer never has to leave their land to travel hours of maybe even a two day round trip to make sales. Because Distribution buys the products directly, the farmers are guaranteed a profit. However, even if the year’s crop yield is poor, the farmers are required to either deliver the contracted amount even if doing so deprives them of needed food, or forfeit both payment and contract.
Other farmers choose to obtain only sale permits, not contracts, from the Citadel. Many herbal remedy sellers prefer this method, although their permits are issued for only one sector’s market, which still limits them. Businesses inside the city sometimes use permit based vending as well. Many bakeries, dairy processors, and butchers choose to sell at the markets, which run seven days a week, rather than having a storefront, since the markets get more business.
The markets are often a combination of indoor and outdoor vending, with those who are contracted to the Citadel or willing to pay extra fees given space inside. Old buildings which were once grocery or department stores serve this purpose. Any freelance vendors are required to set up stalls outside, with permission to move into available indoor space in inclement weather or winter. However, many prefer to remain outdoors, avoiding the worst of the crowds and the noise.
Bartering down prices is a common practice, usually with the independent sellers and not the contracted ones, whose stalls are usually run by Citadel employees. Many people prefer to frequent the independents because of this, although some who prefer to simply pay a set price and avoid potentially severe argument choose the contracted vendors. People develop favorites over time, and the retirement of any vendor will lead to a scramble by others providing the same goods to snap up the now searching customers. Competition is cut-throat, sometimes literally in the Red and Blue. Several nearly disastrous riots have broken out at the markets.
The reason for this is that the markets are often the social heart of a Sector. Almost everyone frequents them and both friends and enemies are likely to meet, perhaps seeking out the same things. Merchants have favorites or hold grudges, and may refuse to sell to customers they do not like. Gossip spreads as quickly at the markets as in bars, and friendships and even marriages have been made or broken by both parties reaching for a fruit at the same time or by a wife discovering her husband not at work but with an Escort posing as a vendor. Rebels also use the markets as a way of getting their message to the most people. They hold rallies in the open air areas or pass out leaflets to customers, melting into the large crowds whenever a Distribution employee notices something is different.
The markets are overseen by Distribution employees. Every street leading in is patrolled by at least one person, and the doors to the market building each have an employee stationed at them. These employees are intended to catch thieves and keep order in the market. Spaulding‘s legislation would make them responsible to check the registration of anyone entering the markets.