White-Collar Criminal: The Offender in Business and the Professions

By Gilbert Geis | Go to book overview

17
THE MERCHANT AND THE LOW-INCOME CONSUMER

David Caplovitz

The data to be presented grew out of the efforts of three settlement houses in New York City to do something about the consumer problems of the poor people in their neighborhoods. In 1960, these settlements commissioned the Bureau of Applied Social Research of Columbia University to carry out a survey of the consumer practices of low-income families as a prelude to a program of action. Two of these settlements were located in East Harlem and one on the Lower East Side. In all, we interviewed 464 families living in low-income public housing projects in these two areas. In order to get the merchants' views of the marketing situation, we carried out more informal interviews with some of the many merchants of furniture and appliances located in East Harlem, along Third Avenue and 125th Street. The density of furniture and appliance stores in this area is probably greater than anywhere else in the country.

The median income of the families we interviewed was about $3,300 in 1960, the year of the study. Most of them were members of racial or ethnic minorities. Forty-five per cent were Puerto Rican, 30 per cent

____________________
Reprinted from Jewish Social Studies, 27 ( January, 1965), pp. 45-53.

-237-

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