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Building a MarketThe Rise of the Home Improvement Industry, 1914-1960$
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Richard Harris

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226317663

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226317687.001.0001

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A Zelig of the American Cultural Economy

A Zelig of the American Cultural Economy

(p.335) Twelve A Zelig of the American Cultural Economy
Building a Market

Richard Harris

University of Chicago Press

The rise of the home improvement industry was made possible by the collective prosperity that brought more people into the middle class. Although most property owners had always tried to maintain their homes in decent repair, they could now afford to steadily improve them through modernization, alterations, or additions. Lumber dealers began to be patronized by consumers and were forced to diversify, thus severing some of their established ties with the lumber trade. The level of urban home ownership soared, and a home improvement industry emerged, propelled by the postwar housing shortage and a do-it-yourself boom. One of the lessons of the emergence of home improvement is that the markets are determined not only by consumers, industry, and the state, but also by the media.

Keywords:   home improvement industry, middle class, lumber dealers, consumers, lumber trade, home ownership, housing shortage, do-it-yourself, media

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