Green’s Dictionary of Slang

small-time adj.

[theatre jargon small time, a vaudeville circuit for second-rate acts]

1. of people, second-rate, inferior.

[US]R. Lardner Big Town 25: A lot of small-time hicks that couldn’t buy a drink if they wanted it.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 242: Why, you lousy small time wop.
[US]A. Bessie Men in Battle 14: Earl had been a small-time pugilist; Hoover a Jack-of-all-trades and Garfield a hanger-on of the artistic world.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 10: Grifters, chisellers, two-bit gamblers, big-time operators with small-time minds.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 28: He was in no mood to listen to a small-time fight manager.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 264: A smalltime pimp came to town from Rhode Island.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 80: The small-time thief is also able to look after himself.
[US]R.D. Pharr Giveadamn Brown (1997) 47: As soon as he had the smalltime rat in his car, Freddy headed for Central Park.
[UK]A. Payne ‘You Need Hands’ Minder [TV script] 5: Sort of place I imagine small time criminals drinking in.
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 62: Small-time speculators who [...] see nothing but riches or lean times.
[UK]A. Frewin London Blues 31: Shot in the police basement in Dallas by a small-time Mafia hood, Jack Ruby.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 201: The kids were small-time dealers on Tyrell Cleveland’s turf.
[Scot]I. Rankin Fleshmarket Close (2005) 402: He’s essentially small-time.
[Aus] F. McCarthy ‘Some Protection’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] In his hoodie, jeans and runners, his movements that of any small time dealer.

2. (also smalltimey) as sense 1, used of objects.

H. Green ‘Troubles of two Working Girls’ in S.F. Chron. 8 June 31/2: ‘Is Iowa in this country or Mexico, dearie?’ ‘I dunno, bella, I don’t try to keep the small time in my dome’.
[US]H.C. Witwer Classics in Sl. 51: This, whilst small time, gets me a laugh and another delicate situation is passed over.
[US]W. Winchell Your Broadway & Mine 11 Mar. [synd. col.] the white weskit with dinner coats is small-timey now.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Blackmailers Don’t Shoot’ in Red Wind (1946) 115: More than this small time joint would net in a year.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 203: Hell, I thought he sold reefers [...] With the right protection behind him. But hell, that’s a small-time racket. A peanut grift.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 71: A small-time setup like this was hardly worth the direct attention of a Moscow man.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 110: He found out that the Utopia had a bookie wire going—small-time.
D. Shaw ‘Dead Beard’ at www.asstr.org 🌐 Just to mark your card here, Dionne comes from a family in Lambeth which has been making a living out of small time lemon and lime since Oliver Cromwell was around.
E. Hagelstein ‘Vidalia’ in ThugLit Apr. [ebook] ‘Y‘The whole thing seems a little small-time for you, Mooney. Crooked jail guards in backwoods counties’’.

In compounds

small-time joint (n.) [joint n. (3b)]

(S.Afr.) the lowest class of shebeen.

P. Becker in The 1820 46:7 32: The lowest class shebeens, known in some townships as Small Time Joints, are patronized by rough-necks and ne’er-do-wells [DSAE].
[SA]P.C. Venter Soweto 124: Those Small Time Joints where they add water to the beer [...] where the so-called hash girls promise sex and plunder your wallet without delivering.
Pace Dec. 152: The ‘small time joints’, patronised by ... tsotsi gangs ... and ‘hesh girls’ ... seldom carry stocks of the better-known brands of liquor [DSAE].