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We’re not movin’

6 Aug 2019

The key thing about vendors is that they work in the public space - where the rules are decided not by a private landlord, but by our democratically-elected officials. However, some landlords think that THEY get to determine what happens on our public streets and sidewalks. Often this means evicting street vendors with illegal sidewalk furniture.  Imagine showing up for working and finding these in your spot? No thank you!

Vendors are not taking it any more, and as far as SVP has a say in the matter, will not be bullied by big real estate. Recently, on Broadway and 31st Street in Manhattan, a Business Improvement District installed a row of sidewalk obstructions to displace vendors who had been working there, in some cases, more than 35 years!  We did a press conference yesterday to draw public attention to this issue, and to demand these planters be moved. Read about it in the Wall Street Journal, AM New York, and Curbed.

Vendors going green

2 Jul 2019

After years of trying, the City of New York finally put in place a ban, this January, on single-use styrofoam. Which makes sense -- nearly 60 million pounds of styrofoam get thrown away each year, clogging landfills and harming wildlife.

Vendors, who often serve their food in styrofoam clamshells, generally want  to be more green. As vendor Mohammed Sarkar said, "at the end of the day, its better for my business, and the planet." But they must be notified about the change! The Department of Sanitation sent more than 130,000 mailers to businesses warning them of the new rules, and attendant fines, but they forgot to tell vendors! With vendors, enforcement without education is often the city's approach. That is wrong. Still, SVP is doing our best with our limited resources to help vendors implement this change.

Announcement: Food Vendor Lawsuit Settlement

22 Apr 2019

Attention Food Vendors! SVP has recently obtained preliminary approval of a class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 300 vendors whose vending carts and other property was seized and then discarded by New York City enforcement agents. Vendors who are part of the class will be receiving notices by mail and are eligible for between $585 and $1000 to reimburse them for their discarded property.

For further information about the settlement please go here.

 

Say my name!

10 Jun 2016
With street vendors, one pattern is clear: people often render them nameless. Even some of the most famous vendors (i.e. "the Dosa Man", aka Thiru Kumar and "the Arepa Lady", aka Maria Piedad Cano) are described primarily by what they sell, not who they are. Some vendors eventually give in, turning their anonymity into a brand, as the Halal Guys have done with great effect. Others are given these arguably demeaning/endearing monikers ("Cart Lady" ?? ) despite their best efforts to develop their own business brands, as happened here to SVP member Fauzia Abdur-Rahman, proprieter of Heavenly Delights. Sure, some vendors can do a better job of marketing. But so too do customers need to start asking vendors their names. We appreciate that this time, at least, the NY Times got it right by proudly naming and sharing the stories of two hard-working vendors in the Bronx -- Angelica and Antonio. Not so hard, now, is it?  

Simple economics

31 Oct 2015

Politicians always love to talk about supporting small businesses. But when it comes down to policy, sometimes they are slow to act. And that failure can affect people's lives.

We saw this again this week when another popular food vendor - Mexico Blvd -- announced they are closing their truck for good. The difficulty getting a permit, and the hassles with parking, finally got to be too much. Luckily, the Loaeza family has a brick-and-mortar, so hopefully they will be ok. But how many vending businesses quietly go under, and they don't make the news? How many entrepreneurs look into starting a food vending business and, reading how difficult it is, never even start?

As things get cold in New York, and summer permits expire, let's hope that many food vendors are able to survive this winter. Let's hope that, by the time spring comes, our City Council and Mayor will have repealed the permit cap that is such a burden on small business in NYC. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake. The solution is simple. Let's hope our politicians act.

529 Days (and counting)

23 Sep 2015

Yesterday it had been 529 days since April 11, 2014, the day we kicked off our campaign to Lift the Caps, decades old, on vending licenses and permits.

We've been patient in the meantime, as important bills got introduced at City Hall, debated, and signed by the Mayor. After 12 years of a billionaire in office, and a new administration concerned about lessening inequality, there was a plenty of work to be done. But we won't wait forever while trivial concerns take precedence. This summer, when a dozen or so (semi) topless women began taking pictures with tourists in Times Square, DeBlasio quickly convened a high-powered task force. And yet here we have thousands of immigrant workers and entrepreneurs, and their families, calling out for change on an issue of basic equity that affects their lives every day.

Yesterday, we rallied in Lower Manhattan, calling for action. More than 250 vendors and their supporters spoke their minds. Hopefully, someone will listen.

Vendors thrive during SVP/QEDC training

15 Dec 2014

Vendors need training just as much, if not more, than other small businesses. SVP, with our large membership, our partnerships, and our expertise in vendor issues, is uniquely situated to provide that training. Which is why we teamed up this year with Queens EDC to apply for Competition THRIVE, a NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) program that “seeks to develop innovative strategies and programs that help immigrant entrepreneurs succeed in business.” We proposed a program called Street Vendor Academy, which became a finalist!

With a $25,000 seed grant, we recruited fifteen art vendors from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan in a six-session training program that covered technology, financial planning, customer service, marketing, product mix/sourcing, and location/regulations. The sessions, conducted in the Tibetan language at CHHAYA in Jackson Heights, Queens, were a big success. Some of the vendors, like Senge Pasang (above left) opened bank accounts for the first time and began accepting credit cards at their mobile locations. In January, we'll compete for the grand prize, so wish us luck!

UPDATE: Congrats to SoBro! While we did not win the $100,000 grand prize, we are seeking funding to support this work in the future.

Vendors make markets!

1 Nov 2014
Once, long before Whole Foods and even Gristedes, New York City was home to dozens of thriving public markets where people did their daily and weekly shopping. Sadly, over the years, the number of these markets has dwindled to just four -- at Essex Street, Arthur Avenue, Moore Street, and La Marqueta, in East Harlem. While today we can order all our food online, people still yearn for the market experience. Smorgasburg, Hester Street Fair, LIC Flea, and other successful examples have proven that much. We want delicious, authentic food and we want to meet the people who make it. Thus came about our new venture. With the massive help of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, we created Vendy Plaza, an outdoor, covered food market at La Marqueta, one of the city's most storied public spaces. We hope this idea, which we will be trying out each Sunday in November, will become a neighborhood gathering spot and an incubation space where new food entrepreneurs - from E. Harlem and across the city -- can get their start. Stay tuned!

Solidarity forever

6 Dec 2013

Working with vendors is so unique that it can sometimes leave us isolated from other movements. But together we are all stronger, right? And lately, more than ever, we have been working in solidarity with other groups. This year, we joined the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and were proud to stand with FCWA and Brandworkers recently in their support of the workers at Amy's Bread Company in Queens. Good food and good treatment of workers should go together!

We also recently collaborated with the NY Civil Engagement Table on an excellent NYC Council Speaker Forum, where they even asked a question about street vendors!  And to top it off, this week we stood in solidarity with Chinese Staff Workers Association, who are working to organize restaurant delivery workers, a hard-working immigrant population that often overlaps (and faces similar race and class-motivated targeting) with SVP's own members.

Hello world!

22 Mar 2012

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