More reaction to TC’s steep day rate for peddlers
Re: Peddler fees…
Guest post by Henry Morgenstein
Response to a recent headline from the Record Eagle: “Price to Peddle Goods go up.” The explanation? “A desire ‘to have an even playing field’ for businesses that pay rent and property.”
When I read that the City was planning to raise the peddlers permit fee from $50 a day to $100 a day I knew what I should do. I should gather all the research — the research that has been out there for well over fifty years — that shows that peddlers, food vendors, draw people to a location — lots & lots of people.
The businesses in front of which the many food carts set up, benefit from this influx of foot trade.
I could go on– and I will in a second — but as I grow old, I grow oh so tired of fighting the good fight. Fifty years ago the businesses downtown were against “freeloaders’ on the sidewalk peddling their goods, paying no rent. They seemingly remain that way. Don’t they know by now that having them there is a tremendous positive, a good thing, not a bad thing? Yes, such trade needs some regulation — but 100 dollars a day? That’s not regulation. That’s punitive. That’s prohibitive. That will do what it is meant to do. Most food vendors, peddlers cannot afford $100 a day.
The intent is clear. We don’t want you. But we should want them. We really really should.
When I was growing up, everyone in my generation read a terrific, groundbreaking book called The Organization Man (Amazon) by William H. Whyte. The brilliant man who wrote this groundbreaking book, William H. Whyte went on to study the dynamic of cities. The first book he wrote about cities had the unusual title The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (PPS). It was published long ago, in 1980.
In it he wrote:
If you want to seed a place with activity, put out food…food attracts people who attract more people.”
Downtown stores want to attract people — to make people want to come downtown rather than to a Mall. The downtown cannot do that by offering more parking. The downtown can offer more food, a greater variety of food, more quirky merchandise, more people walking around to talk to. But what the downtown merchants need to do, if anything, is drop the fee for peddlers.
Downtown merchants need to read the literature that says: Peddlers, especially food peddlers, in front of your store is good — very, very good.
William H. Whyte went on to write a thick, terrific book called City (Amazon). In it he writes:
Outdoor eating has a strong shill effect — which is to say, food attracts people, who attract more people.”
Our downtown wants to attract people. It should encourage “food peddlers,” — and all other kinds of peddlers.
NOTE: The DDA Board and the City Commission will be revisiting the peddler fees outside of the downtown district. The recent rate increase wasn’t intended to be applied to all commercial districts in the City, but that was how the summer rate, previously at $50/day then raised to $100/day, was instituted.
- Traverse City’s un-cool approach to peddlers (mywheelsareturning.com)
- DDA recommends doubling peddlers fee (record-eagle.com)
- Peddler fees revisited (record-eagle.com)
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