Unauthorized Sellers Overtaking In The Streets Of NYC
Live crabs. The arms with the rhinestones. Old shoes. Old shoes. Frayed electrical wires. Knock-off Louis Vuitton’s clutches. Removable face masks. Meets the caps.
Illegal street peddlers, hawking such products, took over the outer boroughs, clogging the streets with their second-hand merchandise, and dragging their customers out of pandemic mom-and-pop markets.
And everybody’s pointing a finger at Mayor de Blasio.
From Brooklyn to the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, folding tables and mats rolled out onto the ground, compel the pedestrians to walk in a single line or step back so they don’t brush over.
There are hotspots on Bronx, 149th Street, and Fordham Lane. So is Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Flushing’s Main Street, particularly a few blocks from Sanford Avenue’s Post Office to Roosevelt Avenue’s 7th Train Station.
On Main, between Sanford and 41st Avenue, The Post counted 27 street vendors—on one side of the street. Two of them took out yellow licenses, revealing that they were war veterans. Six shook their heads like they didn’t understand the English language. The rest turned aside or looked down when asked to show off their licenses.
DianSong Yu of the Flushing Business Improvement District reports that 90% of vendors are not approved. Citywide, the number of all kinds of vendors is about 20,000, according to the Street Vendor Initiative, an advocacy organization. But the legal general merchandise license holders, not counting mobile food sellers, had a limit of a few thousand.
Yu told The Post that they understand that it is a very critical situation for everyone. Yet they ought to be fair to small merchants who pay very high rents and taxes.
Bobby has a yellow license for his place on Main—and he’s furious at the infiltrators. Bobby, who wouldn’t give his last name but told The Post he fought in Vietnam said that they’re robbing the city of taxes, taking money from the veterans, and are taking jobs.
Licenses are provided by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The city caps non-veteran general vendor licenses at 853 and charges a premium of $100 or $200 based on the time of year the applicant reports. Any honorably discharged veteran may receive a free permit.
Sanford and Main are the areas where you can find live blue crabs. Hawkers stack their three high wooden bushels, offering a buck apiece to the crustaceans.
No one’s guess is whether crabs are legal or healthy to eat. No organization could say The Post with confidence, and none of them took responsibility for supervision.
The state of New York permits crabs in the waters near Queens but has limits on the size and number of captures. It issues permits to large hauls.
However, the enforcement body, the State Department of Environmental Protection, does not require a retail license to market crabs. The City Health Department approved mobile food vendors who could not sell fresh fish but did not track street vendors.
The wife of a licensed vendor purchased a dozen weeks earlier, over the protests of her husband, who had not operated since the pandemic due to chronic lung disease.
“She figured what could go wrong … well plenty,” said the husband who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity.
She nibbled on the crab legs that night. Not long after that, she began to feel ill, and her husband wanted to dissect the leftovers for clues. In the bellies, he discovered white worms. The Health Department is investigating, Patrick Gallahue, the spokesperson, told The Post.
“I was an illegal vendor,” confessed the husband, who now is in his 70s. “I can understand if you can go out and sell. Why not? But the situation is out of hand – outrageously out of hand.”
At 39th and Main, Ira Dananberg looks down on the crushing of civilization in his second-floor hearing aid company, Acousticon of Flushing.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dananberg, who has been at his location for 19 years.
He’s concerned that most of his clients are elderly, using a wheelchair or a walker. And they are being intimidated by the masses.
From January to December 21, street vendor grievances across the five boroughs totaled 2,907 – including a 78-day lockdown in the area. Figure 2019: 3.101.
The NYPD wrote 28 tickets to unlicensed vendors for the first nine months of 2020. Last year’s count was 173.
Dananberg, Bobby, and several others accuse de Blasio, who ordered the NYPD to stop cracking down on illegal peddlers in early June—part of the regulatory reform plan he unveiled following more than a week of brutal Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
“It’s a circus,” said Councilman Peter Koo, who introduced a bill passed two years ago that bans all vending – even food carts – on Main Street. “This falls squarely on the mayor.”
Dananberg filed a pair of 311 reports online, which were referred to the 109th NYPD Precinct. The addressing cops told Dananberg that their hands had been bound because of Hizzoner’s moratorium.
NYPD spokeswoman Det. Sophia Mason told The Post cops that they are already handling vendor concerns.
But law enforcement will move from the NYPD to Consumer Affairs on Jan. 15, De Blasio spokeswoman Laura Feyer told The Post.
“We remain committed to a diverse commercial ecosystem, where small businesses of all kinds coexist and contribute to a vibrant street life,” she said.