Vendors are an important part of their communities.
Street vendors deliver many benefits, both to themselves and to their communities. For starters, since vending has low start-up costs, it expands economic opportunities. As a result, these entrepreneurs can create new jobs and make a living to support their families, all while at a fraction of the cost of starting other ventures.
In addition, vending unleashes the possibility of upward mobility. Street entrepreneurs can gain more capital to potentially expand their business. Many food trucks across the country have gone on to open their own brick-and-mortar restaurants. One of the greatest success stories of upward mobility is Daymond John, the founder and CEO of FUBU and star on ABC’s Shark Tank. Before he built his clothing empire, Daymond started out as a street vendor, hawking homemade hats in front of the New York Coliseum. On his very first day of sales in 1992, he made $800. Now he’s a multimillionaire.
On top of that, vendors provide “eyes on the street,” making cities safer. As one urban scholar put it, “A well-used street is apt to be a safe street.” Street vendors can attract people to shop and move outside their home, making communities more vibrant and less hazardous. Plus, since many vendors are out on the streets for many hours a day, they can help monitor for potential crime. In fact, street vendors in New York City have been praised for helping thwart a car bomb, after they alerted police when they spotted a suspicious looking vehicle emitting smoke.
Read more in the Institute for Justice’s policy report, Streets of Dreams.