In premodern economic systems where the social embedding of exchange provided actors with the ability to control or monopolize trade, including the goods that enter and leave a marketplace, “restricted markets” formed. These markets produced external revenues that could be used to achieve political goals. Conversely, commercialized systems required investment in public goods that incentivize the development of market cooperation and “open markets,” where buyers and sellers from across social sectors and diverse communities could engage in exchange as economic equals within marketplaces. In this article, we compare market development at the Late Postclassic sites of Chetumal, Belize, and Tlaxcallan, Mexico. We identified a restricted market at Chetumal, using the distribution of exotic goods, particularly militarily and ritually charged obsidian projectile points; in contrast, an open market was built at Tlaxcallan. Collective action theory provides a useful framework to understand these differences in market development. We argue that Tlaxcaltecan political architects adopted more collective strategies, in which open markets figured, to encourage cooperation among an ethnically diverse population.