Vendor Power

Becoming a street-food vendor is a time-honored road to success—but sometimes you need a helping hand to figure out the ropes.
vendor booklet street food

We know why we love street food: It’s cheap, it’s very often delicious, and it can introduce us to incredible flavor combinations we’ve never experienced before. Street carts also have another important virtue, though: They have traditionally provided an opportunity for immigrants without much capital to start their own businesses.

But for immigrants who are unfamiliar with this country—most often speaking English as a second language—the rules and regulations that govern street vending can be very difficult to navigate. Nowhere is this truer than in New York City, where vendors may routinely face fines as high as $1,000 for even minor violations.

To ease this problem, the Center for Urban Pedagogy, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that uses art to increase grassroots participation in urban planning and community design, created a visual, multi-lingual guide to the city’s complex vendor regulations. In addition to clear explanations of general requirements (you must have a license; you must vend in a legal spot), the cleverly designed brochure delves into such relative minutiae as how far you must place your table from the curb, and provides advice from experienced vendors and recommendations for “Ways to a Better Vendor World.”

Seems like a very good way to help keep vendors on the streets and increase their ability to actually make a living at it. Now, if they could just convince somebody to start selling grilled corn on the streets of New York, like they do in Istanbul

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