New York City has more than 10,000 street vendors—licensed and unlicensed. Vendors’ licenses are notoriously hard to obtain, but there has been a recent movement to increase the number of available permits. Nonetheless, some would-be vendors have been catching a break by becoming part of the NYC Green Cart program, a Bloomberg Administration plan to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in key underserved communities.
Some weeks ago, a NYC Green Cart, a fruit and vegetable stand, started to appear on a corner near my apartment in Brooklyn. Every day a vendor comes, pushing his cart down the street, and sets up his stand right outside of a Popeye’s Chicken and across the street from a Crown Fried Chicken. There’s a grocery store a few doors down, but it’s not so well-stocked, so I’ve been happy to have it there. The cart is piled high with nectarines, berries, apples and other fruits. Sometimes, I stop there on my way home from the gym to pick up a banana, some grapes or an avocado. The thing is, I never see anyone else stop at the cart. Apparently, when the program first rolled out, other vendors were having trouble drawing up a clientele base in these areas. So, the next time you see a vendor, buy an apple, people! We want to see these carts hang around for the long haul.
More about street vendors:
NYC street vendors are mostly immigrants, according to the Street Vendor Project, with the largest percentage coming from Bangladesh. NYC vendors seem to make somewhere between $7500 and $14,000 per year on average, a salary well below the poverty line.
In Ghana, the president has just proposed a retirement plan that would include workers in the informal sector, including vendors.