Joe Ades was one of the greatest street vendors in New York and he achieved this “title” by selling, almost his entire life, vegetable peelers.
He sold the grates for $5 each, but he also offered promotional prices and a lot of people bought his products. The idea is that he knew how to sell those graters: he always welcomed his clients with a smile, he used to wear a suit and a tie and he was a persuasive man.
The onlookers used to stop to admire his skillful hands and he used to say that: “if you do so at home for children, they will eat all the vegetables.”
The most important newspapers in New York shared his talent. Ades was born in Manchester, and when he was only 15 he quit school for work.
He first started with selling comic books in stores, to then open his street business.
In 1956 he got married, for the first time, and had two children. In 1969 he moved along with his family in Australia, where they lived for 25 years, and while in Sidney he got the idea of opening stalls where outdoor cinemas were placed.
In 1980 got divorced and moved to New York. The third wife he divorced gave him a book on Victorian street commerce “London Labour and the London Poor” by Henry Mayhew, which was the starting point of his career.
In 2009, Joe married Estelle, a woman with good financial standing who lived in a three-room apartment on Park Avenue-Upper East Side.
When he was no in the streets selling his vegetable peelers, Joe loved listened to jazz and reading.
Nobody knows how many graters Joe Ades sold during his career or how many kg of vegetables he cut into the street during his demonstration, or how many millions of dollars he owned.
Joe Ades died in 2009, at the age of 75, but he remained known as the greatest salesman in New York.