Street Vendors

800px-Frankfurter_stand_LOC_det.4a13502Every city has people selling things on the street. After all, where can you find more foot traffic (people walking by) than on a city’s sidewalks?

New York City would be a very different place if it didn’t have its many street vendors selling food and other products. Street vendors can sell just about anything, including food — both cooked and uncooked, such as vegetables and fruit — and non-edible items, such as jewelry, luggage, paintings, clothes, cell phone accessories (items used to make something even better, or easier to use), and more.

To be a legitimate (real; following the rules or the law) street vendor in the U.S., you’ll need to follow the laws and regulations, which differ (are different) for each city or state. However, you normally need at least three things.

1.  A sales tax permit and tax certificate — These give you permission from the government to collect tax each time you sell something, so that you can then give that tax money to the government.

2. A general business license — All businesses need a business license that allows the business owner to do business.

3. A vendor license — This is a special license in addition to a business license that allows you to operate on the street.

These are the things you should have if you’re a street vendor in the U.S., but many street vendors in big cities set up shop (operate a business) illegally (without following the law). In most cases (normally), the police turns a blind eye (ignores them) unless there are complaints and problems. That’s exactly what’s happening on one popular street in a neighborhood in Los Angeles called Watts.

In Watts, there is a street known for street vendors called Beach Street. The licensed businesses on the street, people with stores along the street, are complaining (saying that they don’t like it) that vendors are taking away their customers. The city is complaining that they’re losing sale tax money. Now, officials are considering stricter (greater demand that a law or rule be followed) rules for street vendors.

Are there many street vendors where you live? Are there laws and regulations for street vendors? Do you think they’re a blessing (good thing) or a curse (bad thing) for your community?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit: Frankfurter stand from Wikipedia


A note about the “Podcasts This Week” poll

Thank you to those of you who voted and/or commented on our April 25th “Podcast This Week” poll. The results show a preference to keep the Monday posts, with about 46% voting to keep them and 28% voting to get rid of them. We will, therefore, continue to post the “Podcast This Week” messages each week.

We really appreciate you voicing your opinions and helping us make the ESL Podcast blog the most useful it can be!


This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Street Vendors

  1. emiliano says:

    So congratulations to all who votes YES like me, also to all who said NO because at the end it is good to have
    the ESL podcast as frequently as possible.


    Let me Lucy say something….from here the best site for that.

    Tania, Betty, Parviz…..and more friends of ESL podcast…please this is an advise for you, also for people living in Russia, Germany, China, Japan, France and Arab language

    If you are lucky enough to see “desembuches gatufo” witten in your own language (Romanian, Russian Chines and so on…..) please
    tell me how the translation is…….quite bad or not so bad.
    I start to translate it to these languages but as I don´t know any of them, ja,ja, only Spanish and some English, I can´t appreciate how bad the translation is, or
    may be not so bad……if it is so, not bad, I´ll continue doing it….but if it is a disaster……….I´ll Stop with the work.
    What a ñpity not to speak more languages….but is too late for me.

    Thanks Lucy, thanks every one of you who could tell me something about this so stupid new misión of writing without knowing what is written.
    Just incredible.


  2. emiliano says:

    Thousands and thousand of “street vendors” in Madrid, which ever site you go, but not only in Madrid, there are every one big city
    of the country, on the beaches, massage therapists on beaches, painters, or wich ever selling thing or subject you could imagine.

    Majority of them are ilegal (is it anything legal on this Spanish country?) and have to run off the streets every momento they see
    municipal pólice.

    Legal shops don´t want any of these illegally vendors and it is natural as they don´t sell as much as the could, but what could do
    these vendors with the situation we have here in this country?.
    Both, legal shops and illegally vendors are understandable for me. I don´t have a shop, I don´t sell anything on the Street, so
    how can I have an opinión?. I can´t as for me legal shops are right, they have to pay lot of taxes and so on, but for the other who
    have not work, not a different way of make a living….what can we do?. That´s a big problem I have not any solution either
    opinión, it is really difficult.

    When we visited Istambull, Cuca and me several years ago, all the centre of the city was an incredible big market on every one site
    of the streets, but there were also The Big Bazar and other legal places all round the city. Just incredible city. I was astonished
    with the beauty of the old Constantinopla.

    Thanks for all you are doing Lucy, the Fairy Not Faced Lady of ESL Staff.
    When could we see you?.

    Yours, emiliano

  3. Jackson Vieira says:

    Hello Lucy,

    Well, here is São Paulo (Brazil) there’s a lot of street vendors, selling products from China (actually, almost 100% of this products are from China).

    Kind regards,


  4. Dan says:

    Hi guys.

    REALLY!! Emiliano.. Not Just Spanish and English…. P L E A S E Lucy/Jeff…. STOP Him someone stop Himmmm.
    They are going to make a virus called Gatufo… HAhahahahah

    Just kidding Emiliano, you know that, right?

    About today’s topic, I do not a thing about street vendors. I never stop at their stands and I am not a shopper.
    So, I am the last one to write about them.
    I just wanna say that if they are honest people and that is their only way to get some money I have nothing against that.

    Just a little thing about this man that became a Hero the other day:

    Mr.Charles Ramsey thank you! You are a funny man.

    If you guys have not seen his interview, just watch it. One of the funniest thing since the start of this year…and call to 911…

    Thank you all!

  5. Peter says:

    My dear professor Lucy,
    The answer to your question is : yes there must be ,but ,as far as i noticed most street vendors in Toronto own sausage stands ,hotdog stands if you will.
    You know, Hotdog stands are very popular in Toronto. As you can guess from the name of it ,sausage stands serve all kinds of sausages you can think of . They are everywhere particularly in downtown Toronto you can find one or two of them at every corner.
    Interestingly enough ,no matter the number of Sausage stands per capita 🙂 there is always a big lineup in front of them.
    People dig them.:)
    In all fairness , they are really delicious. Don’t look very sanitary ,though.
    But , who cares as long as I can have a tasty hotdog sandwich for just 2 dollars and 50 cents specially in cold weather.
    Anyway, the profitability and popularity of the business has attracted a significant number of street vendors.
    To get a sausage stand ,a street vender must meet a long list of criteria.
    The truth is , I don’t know all the details about it, but I do know some basic laws regulating the system.
    As a first step, They must get a permit in order to open the business and sell the product.the place that they are allowed by-laws to render their business is assigned by the city not by individuals.
    The street venders are subject to pay a monthly rent for the spot regardless of the income.
    The rent varies from one spot to another riding on the foot traffic in the area.

    I m out. That was all I know


  6. parviz says:

    Dear Lucy
    Thank you very much for another interesting topic.
    Street vendors! they are common everywhere. It is hard for me give them a judgement, You know, some of them are good guys who live life the bad way. They have an alibi as to economy is bad and they couldn’t find a better job.
    In the street close to where I work, you can see them stand at 20 meters intervals next to each other at rush hours, congesting the street. At the end of the evening, when they finish working, you see all of the garbage and waste they would leave on the street.

    I hate them more because some of these evils sell cigarettes, and illegal drugs to young people. the is the reason why I can’t tolerate their existence on the street.

    When I have a visitor-friend coming over to me from other cities I wouldn’t offer him to go to see these street vendors, nor ask to go close to the place they sell things.
    Not to mention that they offer thing at very much lower price than you can find in a licensed shop. by the things they sell are not always trust able. For example, once a friend of mine bought a Jacket with a famous brand on it at a cheap price. Despite my insistence t, he bought the Jacket. After a while, may be a month the Jacket started to lose its color. What I feared happened.

    After all they are human and want to live. they can’t just do nothing. And I am not saying we shouldn’t let them work, but it has a bad effect to the face of the city. They are mal-representetive of the city and the culture.
    They need to be more controlled and organized.

  7. parviz says:

    Hi emiliano,
    It is the first time I hear the name “desembuches gatufo”. Please tell me what it is.
    Is it a book you are translating to my language?
    What on earth You translate book.
    If you translated it, please tell me to buy it. I will be happy to read it.
    I am sure you will be doing a good Job.
    Way to go man.

  8. Tania says:

    Hi! Our dear Lucy, I apologize. You are our unique and wonderful teacher.

    All our gratitude , much health and patience with us, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you.


    and I’m sure, all our blog friends.

  9. emiliano says:

    Good mornin every one, first thing I have done this Friday it is just take a look to ESL Blog and read the new posts.
    Ja,Ja, Dan, I agree with you, this man is crazy. It is necessary to Stop him but it could be difficult as he has now a lot of
    time to do crazy things.

    Dear Parviz, that´s would be good …writing a book? No, my friend, I would like to do it so the frustrated writer could
    be less frustrated. Ja, Ja, my father started to paint when he was eighty two years old and he was doing oleo pictures
    till his end. I think he painted more than one hundred oleos, so who knows?. His son could be write something before
    he´ll be eighty years old.
    To be more clear, “desembuches gatufo” is the silly name of my own blog on the web.
    In Spanish “desembuchar” means to tell everything when you ask someone for, it could be when the pólice take a
    criminal and ask him for “desembuchar” to tell all the truth, so “desembuches gatufo” means that the cat is going to
    tell everything, what is the truth for him, but of course he could be wrong.
    First I have written in the Blog only in Spanish, but some month later I started to write also in English, it is like more
    easy to say some personal things in other language, even more when here in Spain could be some people that know
    could be some how not pleased with my words.
    But now I started to translate my blog to several languages, it is easy as the blog has to tools to do that, Russian,
    German, Arab, Chinese….and so on. The only problem could be that yes, it is translated but I don´t know how is
    the translation. I fact I don´t know what I am saying in Russian, Germen, or which ever other language. Five, six
    or seven different languages, may you imagine?. That is the reason I ask for this favor some friends of ESL blog
    if they could read mine in their own language, just tell me if it is possible to read it or it is an absolute stupid text.

    Crazy? yes, it could be, just translating my words to a language I don´t know anything, but now in this vitual world
    everything is possible.
    So, if you search on the web for this blog´s name and see it in your own language please tell me how is it. If I
    could follows doing that crazy task or just better limit it to English and Spanish, the languages I know something.

    Now I have a lot of time free, just get up at 8 a.m. and have several less chores to do at home. Only write, surfing
    through the web, reading, taking care of Cuca and Gatufo…..and nothing more. Last years I were really very busy
    like Betty, more or less, but without daughters……He Betty a pleasure to see you.

    That´s all my friend for begining the day, I listening to Julio Iglesias songs that I like also very much.

    My best for all you.
    Thanks Lucy, I take all the site for me, crazy man.


  10. Cauat says:

    Dear Lucy,

    Wow! You sould come to China have a visit! The situation in China most city(like GuangZhou) are competely amazing!!
    Steert Vendors here have no tax certificate! no business license! Not to mention the A vendor license! you’d better not have a deal with them especially edible things. You know what I mean….
    but even more shocking is that you can hear news about the vendors and urban management officers fighting each other every day!

    best regards,

  11. emiliano says:

    Let us see where the name May comes from:

    The month May was named for the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. Conversely, the Roman poet Ovid provides a second etymology, in which he says that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for “elders,” and that the following month (June) is named for the iuniores, or “young people”.

    So May it is for me, the old of the blog (only the face or the body but not the mind), and June will be for the young, the young of face and body but what about the mind?.
    One could be Young of body, or the age, but not for the mind, and just the reverse. For instase my father was always young of mind, eve whe he was 96 years old, he was always
    telling jokes and looking to the life with a joyful spirit, sometimes the reverse of his wife, my mother.
    Life has this contrast between couples, it is funny after all.

    When I was a young boy and I studied in a Jesuits school, and after a Jesuits college too, it was said to us thay May was the month of Mother Mary, Jesus´s mother and we use
    to pray to Mother Mary all days offering flowers to her. It was the tradition then, but now? where have gone all these traditions? No body knows as there is not any kind of faith
    is this society. Some how it is like a pity despite I am not a classical believer.

    My best friends, the morning is going on and Cuca comes to seat close to me now.


  12. Jens says:

    hello everybody !

    I´am from europe, germany – located in a harbour town called hambourg. acually I must say, there are “street vendors” here – but
    I guess it´s to over 90% organized. for example, there are regular markets on special places. and they need a permit for doing their
    business. also at the moment, where the 824 harbour anniversairy is , which include a four-day “party” at the harbour-promenades.
    the city of hambour is also quite “clean”, which means there are no “street vendors”. they have here some “business improvement
    districts (bid) – which includes “quartiersmanager”.

    at least there is a regualry “Fish-market” on sunday morning, which is quite popular expecially for tourists. after a heavy night in
    the aera of “St. Pauli” (red-light and amusement district), you can buy and eat there from 6.00 h up to 9.30 h – which is also strict regulated!

    so anyway, if somebody want´s to start up a “street vendoors” business here – it might be a good chance to do business, because there is no real competition :))


  13. parviz says:

    Dear Lucy
    I also thank you for letting us know the result of the poll.
    You showed a significant conduct by asking our opinions on how to run the podcast.
    I am your-for-ever-steadfast fan
    thank you

  14. parviz says:

    Hi again
    street vendors, don’t need any license here in Tabriz. Because they show up mostly in the evening. During the day you can see them in the boonies, as sun goes down the come downtown.
    But Newsstand owners, however, have to get the permission from the city otherwise they cant start business. They are not however allowed to sell everything. they have to follow a certain role that confines them to thing things related to media.
    hot dag stands, and we have several other stands who sell sliced and boiled sugar beet on the street. Another very popular kind of vendor sells what we would call SAMBOSE. It is a rectangular sandwich that has potatoes and spice instead of Sausage in it. I first time ate SAMBOSE, during a trip to south, from a stand ran by a person from Bangladesh. It was very delicious but very greasy.
    I care very much about sanitation, but I ate 6 SAMBOSEs that day out of spite.
    Later we learned how to make home cooked SAMBOSE. And now almost every home in the country make them.

  15. Lassana says:

    Hi everybody,

    About this topic, I think street vendors are necessary to sell some things we can find about the country we visit.

    In Strasbourg city where I live, it is located in northen Est in France, you can see them all the time and every days in the streets.

    Many of visitors buy most things to them, but some times I remark the vendors street are too much emphasis.

    Some times that can be inconfortable for potential buyers.

    Besides I can understand the merchants who are angry because street vendors sells their products near of the merchants’ shop and take certain of their customers.

    I think merchants must not worry, because the products that street vendors sells are lower quality.

    See you soon !

  16. Betty says:

    Hi Emiliano

    I am up early as usual. The sun outside is high, the Air Pollution Index (API) is very high also, as usual.

    I have tried to visit your blog website but I cannot find any Chinese words in it.

    If they are Chinese, they are not the Chinese that I know anyway.

    Do you mean the contents in the page ending: “2013/05/blog-post_4230.html?m=1”?

    Perhaps you need to show it to a Chinese who knows Chinese words to know whether they are real ‘Chinese’.

    In general, I would most translation tools that I have come across are not reliable.

    If you translate, say, a page of English from to Spanish, have a look at it, are you happy with the result?

    I think, mostly likely, “no”!

    Please don’t believe in any translation tool.

    I use the google Chinese translation tool only to help me understanding some English words better.

    A lot of time they give me rubbish and I know it because my Chinese standard is quite high.

    That’s all from me this morning.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  17. Dan says:

    Hi guys.

    To everyone who is willing and has the time this weekend. If you wanna listen to interesting stories from the very protagonist of it, most of them native speaker, Google:

    NPR+Teenage Diaries Revisited.

    I loved it.


  18. emiliano says:

    Good morning every one of the Blog´s friends, thank you so much Betty I agree with you in all you said, that´s the reason I asked for some help
    from you friends here in the best blog of the web, mine too. The other is gatufo´s nothing to do with this our real English Blog for years.

    Saturday morning in Madrid, a nice warm day, the sky is blue and the temperatura is 11 ºC but at noon we´ll have 24ºC what is really nice to
    go for a walk.

    As every morning first task I have done is looking into ESL Blog searching new posts from the friends, Gatufo is with me also looking at everything
    I think the cat is overseeing everything is OK after being all night on the bed close to Cuca legs.

    It has to be difficult to translate posts from English or Spanish to Chinese, that little beautiful drawings, I like to see them. The same as the
    Russian words so differents from ours.
    It is incredible how Chinese, Japanese or Arab people could write so difficult words, but all east language´s caligraphy are so difficult too.
    Nice words to look at but without understanding anything…..such a pity.

    Isabel is here already, at home, she is talking with Cuca and in a moment she will be making breakfast for the three of us. May be today as it
    is suturday she´ll return home quite soon to be with her Cesar.
    Isabel is with us from more than six years, she came before only a day for week but now she is doing nearly everything at home. I am
    really happy having her with us. She cooks wonderfully, good nice Peruvian cuisine, it is incredible good, so Emiliano had 12 kg. more than
    a year ago. Bravo Isabel…we love you and I love your work at home now.

    Bye friends, see you later.


  19. Betty says:

    Dear Lucy



    Thanks for this good topic about “Street Vendors”.

    Hong Kong used to have a lot of them. Those street vendors sold foods that they made at home and so every street vendor’s foods were very tasty and unique.

    I bought all my comfort food from them when I was little.

    Now we still have some Street Vendors but they only sell mass production products and I rarely buy them.

    There must be very strict laws and regulations for street vendors in Hong Kong. However, I am not familiar with them.

    Many Street Vendors simply ignore the laws and regulations and thus you hear about the authority catching them and they fight with the authority.

    It is hard for me to say whether street vendors are a blessing or a curse for Hong Kong.

    I think if managed properly, they can be a blessing.

    I don’t need to buy anything from them anymore and so my opinion might be biased.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  20. Betty says:

    Thanks Emiliano

    You have killed three birds with one stone.

    You have:

    1. Reminded us about Lucy’s birthday
    2. Told us about “unbirthday” which is a new word I learned after reading your post and then looked up the internet about Alice in Wonderland.
    3. Told us the story about The American Cinco de Mayo celebration.

    Many thanks again for telling us so many stories, all the time.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  21. Abdulazz says:

    Dr Lucy,

    In my city, Nairobi in Kenya, there is a part called Eastleigh. It is one of the biggest business centres in East Afrika. Both shops and street vendor businesses are equally represented. I doubt majority of them are legitimate. The gervnment neglegted the area. Its insecuere, filthy and congested. Had the government tended this part and provided services, it woud make a great source of revenue.

  22. parviz says:

    Dear Dr. Lucy,
    It is an honer for me to congratulate your BIRTHDAY.
    WE all know you are YOUNG, but never born YESTERDAY.
    Wish you a glorious life.
    You make us all proud.

  23. Willy says:

    I live in Italy. Some time ago when I was a child I was seeing some street vendor, especially in the city where I lived (Agrigento, Sicily). Maybe because I changed location (now I live in Lucca, Tuscany) but now I don’t see them anymore.
    I see them only for special situation, for example for religious feasts.

  24. Betty says:

    Hi Dan

    Thanks for introducing “NPR+Teenage Diaries Revisited” to us.

    I tried to listen but I could not.

    I simply can’t listen to things like that, very sorry.

    It was Mother’s Day on Sunday 12 May 2013 for many countries including the US and China.

    Might be that’s why the program is on air to commemorate Mothering Sunday.

    I was a very old new mother by old standard. I feel very sorry for young girls who have the responsibility of mature adults.

    In a way, I would not want to keep a diary like that if I was the young mother. What for?

    Look forward and move on in life, never look back.

    That’s me.

    BTW, I haven’t listened to it, but I can imagine it is hard to understand the “native” English speakers’ English.

    Many thanks again for telling us something which should be interesting for some of us to listen to.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

Comments are closed.