Joe Ades in Union Square, 8 Aug 2005
18 December 1934|
1 February 2009 (aged 74)|
New York City
|Citizenship||United States of America|
Joseph Ades, the youngest of seven children, was born in Manchester, England, to a jewish family where his father worked in the textile industry. Leaving school at 15, he became an office boy before becoming intrigued by the local markets that would spring-up in the World War II–devastated landscapes of Northern England. He started out hawking comic books before selling linens, textiles, jewellery, and toys directly on the streets.
In 1956 he married a woman. They had three children. The family moved to Australia in 1969 as Ten Pound Poms and settled in Sydney, where Ades tried to set up markets in the parking lots of drive-in movies. Eventually he sold goods at street fairs off of the back of a large truck. After the marriage to Shirley dissolved in 1980, Ades remarried and divorced again.
His third wife gave him a copy of London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, which recorded the activities of the street sellers of the Victorian period. Ades modelled himself on sellers that Mayhew called "the patterers," most of whom liked to ape the dress and mannerisms of gentlemen.
New York City
From 1993 onward, Ades sold $5 Swiss-made metal potato peelers. His engaging sales patter and his $1,000 Chester Barrie suits and shirts from Turnbull & Asser made him a well-known character on his regular demo circuit, which included places such as the Union Square Greenmarket. Ades never bothered with a license, meaning that he was often moved on by the New York City Police Department. His iconoclastic pitches and lifestyle eventually brought him attention and notoriety, and he was the subject of a Vanity Fair article.
Never underestimate a small amount of money gathered by hand for 60 years
Ades was survived by his daughter and two sons from his first marriage. His daughter, Ruth Ades-Laurent, began selling the peelers in the same spots as her father, but was later forbidden from selling in Union Square.
- "Joe Ades". The Daily Telegraph. 6 February 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- "His Stage, the Street; His Rapier, a Peeler". The New York Times. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- "Joe Ades". Daily Telegraph. 6 February 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (Volume 77 / Number 51 – 21–27 May 2008). "He serves up potato peelers with a slice of style". Retrieved 3 February 2009. Check date values in:
- Kaplan, Howard (May 2006). "The Gentleman Grifter". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
- "Estelle Pascoe Obituary". The New York Times. 18 November 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
- "Joe Ades". MSNBC. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- "The Veggie Peeler". WestView - The New Voice of the West Village. 1 March 2009.[dead link]
- "Ades' Subtraction". 4 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 19 May 2009.