Young people who have grown up in an era of shopping at the mall probably have no idea how folks shopped 100 years ago. But the gathering place of the malls, with their kaleidoscope of activity in every direction, is not just a recent phenomenon, as anyone can see form the popularity of Bowie’s most popular shopping attraction. A monthly market that comes to life the weekend before the second Monday of each month, Bowie’s Second Monday Trade Days have been a Bowie fixture for over a century.
In fact, in some ways, Second Monday Trade Days put the malls to shame. After all, where at the mall can you enjoy a good old trade or barter, find real live clucking chickens or purchase a horse? Or find antique furniture and farm tools alongside homemade crafts? Today’s Trade Days host as many as 15,000 shoppers each month who scan the wares of more than 280 vendors. Located at the edge of Bowie on Business 81/287 (also known as Wise Street) in Pelham Park and neighboring Trade City, Second Monday Trade Days is spread over 20 acres and is equipped with restroom facilities, showers and plenty of parking.
Today’s Trade Days is the longest running shopping extravaganza in North Texas history, but it got its start out of pure necessity on a hot August afternoon in 1893. A few livestock men from Montague, Clay and Wise Counties pinpointed the need for a central trade market where they could trade animals and equipment. Traders arrived with their herds Friday night before the main trade day and were back on the road the following Tuesday. City records show that as many as 6,000 horses could be seen parked in downtown Bowie on Trade Days. Entertainment included medicine shows, novelty hawkers and peddlers who showed up to court the country folk who came to town only occasionally. In those days, goods and services were spent just like money.
But Second Monday Trade Days has changed with the times. The focus has shifted from livestock to commodities, both new and used. Today, information about this century-old shopping tradition can be found on-line at www.secondmonday.com and www.tcbowie.com.