I can understand where you are coming from, I found it a very difficult concept to grasp having lived in an environment drowned in commerce for so long, particularly with so few opportunities to explore other ways of surviving.
In the UK throughout the year, I am able to escape back into the dark ages of re-enactment/Live Role Play, at a cost of $80 for a weekend. At each event there are vendors or traders who turn up with their stalls to sell their wares. They dress in their kit according to the style of the event, as a Viking Warrior, Saxon, Arragorn or Luke Skywalker, but that is as far as most can go. Whilst everyone else around them is living and breathing and interacting in this real fantasy world, the traders stand outside, distracted. Most find it difficult to participate, and it is understandable because to fully immerse themselves, would mean they would loose their focus, and that could cost them the next sale, the revenue, the £150.00 that they have to earn before they will break even to cover their costs on the event etc etc.
Burning Man is a participatory event, practically everyone gets involved - okay there are a few who may slip through the net, but the Karma police are there for them
. I personally would like to see free coffee and ice served at Centre Camp rather than encourage more vendors to trade.