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From Goodwill to GrungeA History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies$
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Jennifer Le Zotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631905

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631905.001.0001

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Dressing Dada and the Rise of Flea Markets

Dressing Dada and the Rise of Flea Markets

(p.52) Chapter Two Dressing Dada and the Rise of Flea Markets
From Goodwill to Grunge

Jennifer Le Zotte

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the economic, cultural, and demographic supports for the rise of flea markets during the interwar period. I introduce the duality of secondhand consumer motivations, as well as the contradictions of a perennial avant-garde adoration of used materials. The reframing of novelty to include the not-new was connected to, on one hand, transnational art movements tinged with political radicalism, such as Surrealism and Dada, and on the other, nostalgic sentimentalism forged by conservative patriotism, like that of automitive mogul-turned-collecter Henry Ford. While the growth of flea markets did rely on a broadening consumer market for secondhand goods, the forms and locations of the outdoor venues demonstrated the independent determination and entrepreneurialism of marginalized classes, especially immigrants and black southern migrants; xenophobia and antisemitism helped establish the locations and format of many urban flea markets. As chain grocery stores like the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (the A & P) replaced direct-to-consumer food distribution via farmer’s markets in the country and city-sanctioned public markets in urban areas, secondhand commodities filled in the gap, sustaining preexisting open-air venures.

Keywords:   Flea markets, Farmer markets, Direct-to-consumer food distribution, Secondhand commodities, Surrealism, Dada, Avante-garde, Immigrants, Antisemitism

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