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©Mark Indig, Closed On Sundays

Closed On Sundays

The dictionary defines shopping as “the purchasing of goods from stores.” That definition may require some adjustment in the digital age.


How do you shop? Big box stores, chains, malls, boutiques, mail order, the internet? How do you decide what and where to buy? Advertising campaigns? Celebrity endorsements? Product placement? Social media?

What has often been left behind is the local storefront, especially in economically challenged neighborhoods. No interior designers. No ad agencies. No commercials. No toll-free numbers. No dedicated parking. No websites. And many, being family-owned, are still closed on Sundays – a nostalgic notion in a society that is open 24/7. So we just drive by or let our smart phones do the walking. But when you see the light filtering through the old-fashioned iron burglar bars, the result can be a rainbow of delights just beyond reach -- at least on Sundays.

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©Mark Indig, Closed On Sundays

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©Mark Indig, Closed On Sundays

These small businesses tell a story about diversity, ingenuity, creativity, eccentricity, culture, design, social class, economics, commerce and competition in the Greater Los Angeles area but track more universal themes. It is about the struggle of the little guys to survive when all they have is a storefront, an idea, a can of paint, a window display and a lot of sweat equity to compete in an environment where they are outgunned and outspent for your business. The vibrance of these displays belies the razor’s edge in which these businesses often exist. Some succeed, many fail and most just hang on. But how dull would our communities be without these unique forms of expression?

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©Mark Indig, Closed On Sundays

The compositions exist in a space without people but with the feeling of human presence. These are lived-in environments, altered by their inhabitants, and unique. The stillness belies their sometimes handmade, improvised nature: the hand-painted murals, graffiti, signs, advertisements and even the choice of dresses in the windows. The requisite gates over doors and windows are the masks and protectors of this world increasingly vanishing in a world of big box stores. Each storefront is a work of folk art; each window a unique DIY amalgamation of colors, wares, displays, signage and architectural flourishes. Do we want every Main Street to look the same? Should people have to work 7 days a week to compete and survive? The stakes are high – the success and future of a family, a street, neighborhood or even a city.

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©Mark Indig, Closed On Sundays

These images were taken over 6 months of Sundays (Oct 2009 - Mar 2010) as a diversion while my late wife Mamie was suffering from the end stages of terminal illness and is dedicated to her memory. As her caregiver, I was only able to take a few hours off each Sunday morning. I have little doubt that I gravitated toward this subject as I watched her essence recede and become inaccessible, as if she were behind iron bars.

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©Mark Indig, Closed On Sundays