This trading system supported various levels of pochteca from very high status merchants through to minor traders who acted as a type of peddler to fill in gaps in the distribution system.5 A merchant class characterized many pre-modern societies.33 As standards of living improved in the 17th century, consumers from a broad range of social backgrounds began to purchase goods that were in excess of basic necessities.

Surrounding the market, skilled artisans, such as metal-workers and leather workers, occupied premises in alley ways that led to the open market-place.13 Wall painting from Pompeii depicting every day activities at a market-place Mosaic showing garum container, from the house of Umbricius Scaurus of Pompeii.539 "Decameron Web Society".

Rules established by merchant guilds were often incorporated into the charters granted to market towns.By the 13th and 14th centuries, merchant guilds had sufficient resources to have erected guild halls in many major market towns.Citation needed, a scale or balance is often used to symbolise a merchant.