Chapter

Street Traders, Hawkers, and Pedlars

Claire Holleran

in Shopping in Ancient Rome

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698219
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741326 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698219.003.0006
Street Traders, Hawkers, and Pedlars

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Street traders, hawkers, and peddlers were an integral part of the retail trade in Rome. This chapter analyses the literary, archaeological, and pictorial evidence for these retailers. Street trading was a complex phenomenon, and a study of comparative cities, namely nineteenth-century London and present day Lagos, demonstrates that it is linked to the wider urban economy, in particular to the labour market and a lack of formal job opportunities. In such cities, street trading becomes a popular means of generating an income, since it requires minimal initial capital and little technical knowledge. Comparative cities also demonstrate a hierarchy of sellers, and a similar situation is posited for Rome, with many workers relying on street trading to earn a livelihood, but with other sellers being in the employ of others, sent out from fixed premises to retail elsewhere, or to visit private homes, either speculatively or by invitation.

Keywords: street traders; hawkers; peddlers; nineteenth-century London; Lagos; labour market

Chapter.  14991 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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