There were no rules or laws to restrict activities in a Shadow Market, and almost anything that was illegal somewhere could likely be found for sale in one. They operated as centers for trading activities that would likely be prohibited under Federation law. All transactions were treated as between anonymous individuals, and family names, even those of powerful or influential Familes, were never used inside its boundaries. However, in practice, ruling families were just as influential inside a Shadow Market as they were everywhere else they dominated.
A Shadow Market could be a rather messy and seedy place, and inhabited by generally fluid and secretive population of shady merchants, beggars, con artists, thugs, prostitutes and their pimps, drug-dealers, and assorted scoundrels. Fixed businesses were bars, drug dens and bordellos. Although dangerous, it could be a place of great opportunity for those experienced in underworld dealings.