Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vendor Inequity

At the February 9th hearing of the City Council's Committee on Consumer Affairs Mr. Sung Soo Kim of the Korean-American Small Business Service Center (KASBSC) outlined some of the issues facing the city's roughly 3,000 green grocers. In particular, after highlighting the intensity of the over-enforcement campaign against the stores, Kim underscored the disparity between the city's focus on these stores and its blithe disregard of street vendors who sell the exact same products.

As Mr. Kim pointed out, "Produce vendors in the city are thoroughly immune from any enforcement." He provided the Council with a chart that illustrated the unfair dichotomy. As he demonstrated the vendors, unlike the tax paying stores, are not subject to repeat violator guidelines, are not required to post any DCA complaint sign, are not held accountable for illegal dumping, and will only have a license suspended after four violations in one year (a store will face revocation for its second violation in two years).

We are working with the Council to draft equitable legislation that will create some parity between the vendors and the legitimate store owners (which goes to show you how far the disparity has come- the vendors are less scrutinized!). As if the the harshness of the regulatory climate wasn't bad enough, green grocers, bodegas and supermarkets must stand by and watch unregulated competitors simply steal their business away. Justice and equal protection demands nothing less