City street vendors hosted the first-ever vendor-run street fair “Pushcart Market” in Downtown Manhattan today, offering New Yorkers an array of food, crafts and clothing in what they hope will become a regular event. Borough reporter Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
It's not often Park Place fills with vendors instead of cars, but Friday marked the first-ever vendor-organized Pushcart Market. Both vendors and attending consumers were enthused for the event.
"I think it's a great idea. Everything is so spread out, so to have everybody right here in one thing, without the cars and all the craziness, absolutely much better," said one participating vendor.
Among the items for sale were etched crystal towers, jewelry, crafts and genuine city street food:
"I'm just trying it for the first time. It looks delicious," said one customer.
"That was one of the things we had on our list to do, was to make sure we checked out some street vendors, and this was a great place where the kids could find something and we could all eat together," said a visitor from Nebraska.
Turnout was a little bit low for the day-long event, possibly because the idea had not caught on yet.
"Hopefully down the road, people will start to get excited and start to attend their neighborhood fairs more often and come to see all the different types of vendors New York City has to offer," said a vendor.
Vending advocates are worried about a bill being introduced last week by Manhattan Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, which would give the city the authority to yank the permit of any food vendor who gets three traffic violations in a year.
"It seems like an attempt to single out our smallest of small businesses, our street vendors. We don't know why she's doing that," said Sean Basinski, the director of the Street Vendors Project.
Lappin says the vendors are misunderstanding her bill, and that it does not apply to them but to the mobile food trucks set up on city streets all day, which feed the parking meters and idle.
"These food trucks are part of our city's landscape and I hope they continue to be but they should feed New Yorkers, not the meters," said Lappin in a statement.
There is a hearing on the bill before the City Council's Consumer Affairs Committee this Wednesday.
There is no date yet for the city's next Pushcart Market.