Vendor vs. Goliath

19 Feb 2010

One of the reasons people don't see street vendors in the context of social justice is because they can't imagine who our adversaries are. "Who doesn't love street vendors?" is one question we often get from less-enlightened supporters.

Well, a lot of people. Or at least a few very powerful business groups. The former head of the Fifth Avenue Association once famously declared "if we had our way, [vendors] would be totally eliminated." Ouch! And here's the Downtown Alliance's platform for anti-vendor advocacy in 2010. (after the jump).

"1) urge the city to make unlawful vending a law enforcement priority, 2) urge presumed District Attorney-elect Vance to pursue harsher sentencing and stiffer penalties, and 3) urge state and city legislators to advance bills that impose a stricter barrier to gaining a vending license."

Basically the opposite of what we want: less harassment, less punitive penalities, and more licenses and permits. Except the Downtown Allliance has 47 employees and a budget of $16 million a year. SVP has two employees, a scragly team of volunteers (sorry, volunteers!) and a budget around $100K. Any ideas on how we can overcome this resource disparity? Maybe we should organize a boycott of their big River to River festival?

2 Responses to “Vendor vs. Goliath”

  1. Christiane Lauterbach February 20, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    Your site is an inspiration to me
    I am a journalist in Atlanta and have started a website out of frustration with the city’s restrictive policies
    I have linked your site and I check it religiously

    I hope to be the yeast in the dough, the kick in the pants
    and galvanize a few people here and there


    • Mike Cutno April 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm #


      I am currently working on a paper about street vendors. I’m a graduate student in City Planning at GaTech. I’d like to contact you if possible. What’s your website?

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