'More Than a Market' Exhibit Opens in Burlington’s Old North End | Food + Drink Events | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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'More Than a Market' Exhibit Opens in Burlington’s Old North End

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Published July 19, 2022 at 1:55 p.m.
Updated July 27, 2022 at 8:54 a.m.


Dillip Chhetri, who runs RGS Nepali Market in Burlington, viewing "More Than a Market" - COURTESY OF MARY RIZOS
  • Courtesy Of Mary Rizos
  • Dillip Chhetri, who runs RGS Nepali Market in Burlington, viewing "More Than a Market"

Louis Mossey of Milton distinctly remembers his grandfather cutting meat on his shop counter for eager customers. "He ground the hamburger right there in front of your eyes," Mossey told Seven Days.

His French Canadian grandfather Donat Danis co-owned Danis's Cash Market, a grocery store in the Lakeside neighborhood of Burlington from 1926 to 1969, with his brother Arthur. The market is one of nine historical markets featured in the "More Than a Market" exhibit, which opened at Burlington's Old North End Community Center on June 27. The exhibit is one component of the More Than a Market project, part of nonprofit Historic New England's "Everyone's History" series, which tells the stories of New American-owned markets past and present. The other Chittenden County project components are an informational app and walking tours of existing Old North End markets.

Through both current and historic photos and interpretive displays, the exhibit recounts the lives of late 19th- and early 20th-century Canadian, German, Italian, Irish, Jewish and Lebanese immigrants who opened neighborhood markets. Located in the Old North End and the Lakeside neighborhood of Burlington and near the textile mills in Winooski, the markets were a taste of home and community for many New Americans.

Detail from "More Than a Market" - COURTESY OF MARY RIZOS
  • Courtesy Of Mary Rizos
  • Detail from "More Than a Market"

Though just a child when his grandfather was the market's butcher, Mossey recalls that it operated on "good faith, trust [and] helping people when they were in need."

In addition to the historical markets, the exhibit features the stories of six contemporary markets in the Old North End, Winooski and South Burlington. The historical markets primarily sold locally sourced goods such as meat, fresh vegetables and pantry items; the Vietnamese, Bosnian, Bhutanese and East African contemporary market owners sell these as well as many products from their countries of origin.

Project director Charlotte Barrett and project photographer Mary Rizos spent the past 12 months interviewing current market owners and the descendants of historical market owners to construct the exhibit. They used what Rizos called "collaborative ethnography" — understanding stories based on the perspectives of those to whom the story belongs.

Rizos spent hours at the contemporary markets, taking pictures and interacting with customers.

"We had to hang around long enough to make sure we understood this experience from the perspective of the other person," Rizos recalled.

Barrett, community preservation manager at Historic New England, researched the stories of the historical markets, partnering with Burlington Edible History and the Winooski Historical Society to highlight those most prominent.

Detail from "More Than a Market" - COURTESY OF MARY RIZOS
  • Courtesy Of Mary Rizos
  • Detail from "More Than a Market"

According to Sister Marie Kieslich of South Burlington, whose grandfather owned Kieslich's Market in the Old North End from 1911 to 1987, the exhibit is indicative of the communities that formed both within and among the markets.

"It shows the reality of the cultures that created the city of Burlington," Kieslich said.

Kieslich's Market was known for its homemade sauerkraut, as well as specialty meats.

Barrett said she hopes the exhibit showcases the time she and others spent conversing face-to-face with the market owners and their relatives. "We didn't want to just arrive in the markets and ask people to be in a project with us," she said. "We worked to develop relationships [and be] respectful [of] cultural differences."

The "More Than a Market" exhibit is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m., through December 23.

Corrections, July 20 and 25, 2022: The correct spelling in the photo caption is Dillip Chhetri. Louis Mossey’s grandfather was Donat Danis. Brothers Donat and Arthur operated Danis's Cash Market together, where Donat was butcher. The exhibit features the stories of six contemporary markets in Winooski and South Burlington, as well as in the Old North End. Charlotte Barrett and Mary Rizos are not project curators but rather project director and photographer, respectively. Rizos no longer works at the Vermont Folklife Center. Sister Marie Kieslich lives in South Burlington.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Culinary Communities"

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