A Testimony: street vending creates opportunities for small businesses to grow
Posted on April 11 2019
On April 11, 2019 the NYC City Council held a public hearing regarding introduced legislation 1116 that would modernize street vending rules that have not been updated since the early 1980's. As a street vendor turned storefront I can attest to the tremendous opportunities that street vending provides small businesses. Unfortunately I was unable to testify because I had to run back to Brooklyn to open the shop, but I would love to share it with you here:
Written testimony of Christine lynch April 11, 2019
I am a small business owner and the founder of Local Color NYC. My story starts in 2015 when I decided to open a shop that supported American Made goods and other small businesses. Being an independent start up, I quickly found that opening a brick and mortar store was not going to happen. Landlords were demanding exdperience with proof of tax returns, earning statements, and upwards of 4 months rent deposit.
Still believing in my vision, I decided to take a risk, do something unconventional, and create my own opportunity. I built my shop into a truck and created a mobile boutique. This business model was the perfect launching pad for my business to grow because it was low risk, lower startup cost, and allowed for experimentation. I am excited to announce that after 4 years working as a street vendor I have opened a brick and mortar store in Greenpoint Brooklyn, taking over a storefront that had been vacant for years. I truly believe that I would not have been able to open my store without my experience as a street vendor.
It should be noted that I knowingly operated my mobile shop illegally for those years while parking on the streets of NYC. There are no permits or licenses available to sell out of a truck curbside or in public plazas. Yet I am not the first success story to use this business model to grow my small business. There are several other retail trucks turned storefronts and food trucks turned restaurants all over the city and all over the country.
Today you will hear a lot of people talking about how street vendors compete with brick and mortar businesses. How unfair it is that we don’t pay rent. We may not pay rent on the physical sidewalk or street space, but we do pay for commissaries, commercial parking, commercial kitchens, insurance, taxes, etc. Our businesses don’t operate for free.
This is New York City. There is enough room for all of us to thrive together. Let’s believe in community over competition.