La Dalia market, bordered by the streets of Sabino, Eligio Ancona, Fresno, and Manuel Carpio (formerly Dalia Street), is perhaps the most important center of everyday economic exchange by local people that articulates the dynamics of material and personal relationships, which reinforces the social texture while generating and maintaining resistance to corporatized forms of consumption.

Commissioned by inSite/Casa Gallina, the second contextual study (an initial approach was the First Mapping. Socio-cultural and human diagnosis.) is aimed at understanding La Dalia’s structure and operations, mapping the physical space of the market and the distribution route of products, learning its history, civic and religious practices, and demography of vendors, as well as the consumption habits of neighbors. This commission will be a collaborative process between ethnologist Barut Cruz and designer Maru Calva, who will research and conceptualize the use, distribution and promotion of this possible tool.

Summary of the contextual study

President Adolfo López Mateos and the City Major Ernesto P. Uruchurtu opened La Dalia on March 4, 1960.
According to vendors, supermarkets have made an impact on the market. Only three blocks away, at Manuel Carpio and Nogal Street, a large supermarket, the Bodega Comercial Mexicana has had adverse effects on the market, although La Dalia is still the provider of basic necessities. Other large stores and supermarkets competing with La Dalia are Soriana and Wal-Mart Buenavista. Another big competitor is La Parisina that specializes in fabric, located on Insurgentes opposite Plaza Forum Buenavista.

The main entrance to La Dalia was closed for nine months after a fire on November 15, 2013; 20 stalls where groceries, flowers, shoes, fruit, vegetables, tortillas, and esquimos (popular corn snack) were sold and a warehouse were burned to the ground. The market reopened on Monday August 18, 2014.



Physical structure

Occupying over 2300 m2, with a construction of 1800 m2, the physical structure of the property is determined by its geography. Its distribution is shown below (see Table 1):

a) Two major shopping areas: Zone 1, Miscellaneous; Zone 2, Grocers. The market has 413 official stalls and four small annexes.

b) In the service area there are: restrooms divided by gender, women’s with five toilets and men’s with five toilets and a urinal, a loading and unloading platform; six wash basins; 22 washers distributed in the aisles; a power station; a warehouse where maintenance and cleaning supplies are stored; five warehouses for vendors (only used by those with special privileges); two parking spaces for customers, one on Fresno and another on Sabino; two hydrants and a double hydrant; a yard for trash.

c) Common areas are: six long platforms plus a small one running from east to west, and eight platforms from south to north, making a total of 17 intersecting corridors.

d) A management space managed by the Cuauhtémoc Delegation.

e) A Children’s Development Center (CENDI) servicing 60 children. The director is Maribelle Gaspar Aguilar, certified teacher.

The commercial area known as “Miscellaneous” is the smallest in the market and carries nonperishable goods and products such as: clothing, stationery, plastic utensils, hosiery, giftware, shoe stores, tailors, and repair of household appliances and computers, etc.

The largest is the Grocers Area, carrying: groceries, dairy, meat (beef, pork, chicken), fruit, greens, vegetables, flowers, fish, etc. There are also some unrelated stalls, for example, piracy products (mainly movies and music), beauty shops, and repair shops for cell phones and electrical appliances.

Legal elements and political-administrative organization

All markets in the city are ruled by legal instruments that circumscribe their action such as:

* Organic Law of the Administration of the Federal District
* The Federal District Tax Regulations
* Internal Regulations of the Public Administration of the Federal District
* Operations and Functions of Public Markets Agreement in the Federal District
* Law of property regime and public service
* Decalogue of Good Condominium Owners, with emphasize on article number 3
* Markets Regulation

La Dalia is self-administered; that is, vendors organize themselves and make decisions regarding the guidelines and management of the market. This self-administration is presided over by a Board of Directors comprised ​​of vendors, while the market has to abide by the statutes of the Delegation, which are established by the Departmental Unit of Markets and Malls, under the direction of Aldo Giovanni Ramírez Olvera, officer of the Cuauhtémoc Delegation.
The Children’s Development Center, or CENDI, has to follow certain rules, in order to be recognized by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP, as per English acronym), which in the past, has led to some confrontations with the Board.



La Dalia. Inside the market

There are many types of vendors: those with a fixed stall and some with semi-fixed stalls in corridors, although their number has significantly decreased since the fire; in addition, there are also walking vendors and occasional vendors.

Fixed vendors

These comprise the highest percentage, occupying 413 official stalls plus three annexes and an expansion of a stall. Fixed vendors are key to the market in financial terms, and they also play a significant role in the religious practices and civic festivities in the market. The market has a labor force of approximately 600 people. Some work individually, others with their family (children, grandchildren, siblings), and others hire

Semi-fixed vendors with stalls in the aisles

When the mapping work began (mid-August 2014) there were several stalls in the aisles, as a result of the fire. By now (early November 2015) many have returned to their original stall locations, thus clearing the aisles.

Temporary vendors

There are two types of temporary vendors: those who set their stalls within the perimeter of the market and those that are organized by different leaders on nearby streets. Vendors on Sabino street sell, among other products: salt shakers and toothpick holders, candy, plastic utensils, corn, bread, chicken wings, bibs, chia seeds, earrings, single cream bread, flour based imitation pork-skin, and honey. There are also shoe shiners. Those located on Fresno sell plastics, farm products (cheese, green beans, lambs’ quarters, huitlacoche [corn fungus]), traditional bread, mushrooms, single cream bread, secondhand clothes and toys, earrings, food (quesadillas and tlacoyos), electronic appliances (batteries, TV antennas), and cactus leafs.

Walking and occasional peddlers

There are two types: those who walk offering their products and those who stay in a fixed place for a day.



Product routes

La Dalia Market depends on an intricate network of providers. According to the different needs of the stalls, products, goods, or services are acquired from different places. The main provider – given the number of stalls – is the Central de Abasto; however, there are other providers as far as Guadalajara or Michoacán, and others as close as La Dalia itself. In brief, operations rely on a supply network or on commercial centers, and La Dalia itself is one of them.

Thus, not necessarily in order of importance, vendors purchase from the following commercial centers:

1. Central de Abasto: Fruits, vegetables, fish, and flowers.

2. Rastro Ferrería in Mexico City, and distribution centers in the State of Mexico, mainly Texcoco, Ecatepec, and Naucalpan: meat.

3. Downtown Mexico City: stationery, buttons, stuffed toys, ribbons, gift bags, clothing, and parts for appliance repair shops.

4. Jamaica Market: Flowers.

5. Mixcoac and Morelos Markets: Fish and aquarium articles.

6. Sonora Market: Herbs.

7. Guadalajara (Jalisco) and León (Guanajuato): Shoes. Vendors either buy directly or have shoes sent from the above cities.

8. Michoacán: Avocados

9. La Bodega. Located at Montevideo Ave. and Cien Metros: Chicken.

Vendors also buy from large corporations that produce or pack groceries, dairy, bakery, and deli products. Among them, those with large-scale distribution include: Bimbo (bakery), Lala (dairy), and Coca Cola. Stalls selling ready-made clothes also depend on suppliers that deliver their goods. Other providers also deliver products such as candles.

Socio-cultural environment

This section describes festivities, religious practices, and the demographic composition of the vendors, as well as their gender and age.

Religion and civic festivities

Most of the vendors at La Dalia are Catholic. At the main entrance (Fresno), vendors have a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, St. Jude Thaddeus, and a small Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos. Religion is an element of social cohesion that also provides a sense of belonging to the vendors who organize an annual pilgrimage to the Basílica de Guadalupe, also called La Villa.

* Anniversary
This year (2014) on March 5t the market will celebrate its 54th anniversary, and as agreed with the manager and some vendors, a mass will take place at 10a.m., as in previous years. The Board has also organized to have live music performed by an orchestra, an estudiantina (traditional student’s band), or by a maríachi band. Some vendors will give small tokens to their clientele. Also as part of this tradition, there will be two parties, one for clients and another for vendors only.

* Mother’s day
Every Mother’s Day (celebrated in Mexico on May 10t), vendors give presents to clients..

* Pilgrimage to the Basílica of Guadalupe
Organized by the Board, the pilgrimage takes place sometime in November, as opposed to December, to avoid the large crowds of pilgrims from all over the country that gather at the Basílica to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe. Each year, a group of vendors, relatives, friends, and customers walk to Peralvillo (where the city gateway once stood) where they’re joined by more people to walk to the Villa and to attend mass.

* Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe
According to tradition, every December 12 the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated with a mass at the shrine in the market. Also at that shrine St. Jude Thaddeus and the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos are venerated. Not everyone attends the mass, since some vendors are not Catholic.



Demographic composition

Some vendors inherited their stalls from their parents or grandparents; others have been here since La Dalia opened and two generations of their family have continued with the business; some bought the stall and have kept selling the same kind of products for many years; others, in contrast, are newcomers. It is worth mentioning that in accordance with the Market Regulation, Chapter III, Articles 45, 36 et. seq., stalls may be sold and the type of merchandise may be changed, thus some vendors have purchased their stalls from previous tenants.

Some vendors were born in Santa María La Ribera and have spent their lives in the barrio, others come from different delegations in Mexico City (Milpa Alta, Cuajimalpa, Iztapalapa, Venustiano Carranza, Gustavo A. Madero), and others from towns in the State of Mexico (Tultitlán, Nezahualcóyotl or Huixquilucan). There are also vendors who have migrated from many other states, such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Hidalgo, and Veracruz.


According to data provided by the Administration, between 55 and 60 percent of the business owners are women, whereas client service is more balanced between both genders.


The age range of vendors is from 25 to 90 years. Some are grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the first vendors at the market, and have continued in La Dalia; others are children of vendors who joined the business 15 or 20 years ago, while others arrived recently. There are days when teenage children or grandchildren help.

La Dalia Market: Contextual Studies / Ethnographic Survey. Complete version. PDF (Spanish)