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In Indianapolis, the peddling business led to the blossoming of Syrian American corner grocery stores. Stores like Freije’s Market were essential to the Syrian community. Customers cashed their paychecks here, newer immigrants were often employed here, and during the Great Depression, the corner market would help unemployed customers from the community get dry goods on credit. The Syrian corner grocery store was the cornerstone of the community both literally and figuratively.


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Among this first wave of Arab immigrants, the most common trade was pack peddling. Pack peddlers often purchased their wares on credit from fellow Arab American factory and/or store owners. According to cultural studies scholar and professor, Randa Kayyali, “these merchandise suppliers would set up receiving stations, often along rail lines, for peddlers to pick up more goods, as the peddlers often traveled for months at a time.” But by the early 1900s, more peddlers were beginning to make the commitment to permanent settlements, and they generally clustered in Arab neighborhoods.

For more information visit the Arab Indianapolis blog at:

Curtis, Edward. The Syrian Corner Grocery, Arab Indianapolis. Accessed March 1st 2022.

Kayyali, Randa A. The Arab Americans. Greenwood Press, 2006.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Curtis, Edward. The Syrian Corner Grocery, Arab Indianapolis.

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