New York – Illegal street vendors are taking over Fordham Road in the Bronx and some store owners say it is cutting into their bottom line.
“It’s out of control,” said Wilma Alonso, executive director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.
Alonso says it’s the worst from Webster Avenue to the Grand Concourse.
“We have 240 storefronts and on any given day we can have 340 vendors on the sidewalk and that’s outrageous,” she says.
Cameras from Granthshala 5 NY caught several vendors selling without a legal permit, which has upset many business owners in the area.
Kid City manager Mojeeb Ullah says, “They are street vendors and they don’t pay any rent and our bosses pay a hefty amount for rent.
Ullah claims that there can be 5 to 7 vendors in front of his shop on weekends, which affects his business. Sometimes he says that sellers put up for sale the same goods that he is selling in his store.
In March 2021, street vendor enforcement was withdrawn from the NYPD and handed over to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection. However, DCWP will not be fully operational till September. It is in the midst of hiring additional enforcement staff.
The DCWP has conducted 529 vending inspections and issued 232 violations. Of these, 13 inspections and 8 violations were on Fordham Road.
In a statement to Granthshala 5 NY, a spokesperson for the agency said, “Vending is a complex issue that touches all of us – from the vendors themselves to local businesses to residents and visitors. Our goal is to address the concerns of everyone involved. Listen and strike. Balanced approach that is the same for all, including ongoing education as well as scaled, strategic enforcement, especially in problematic areas.”
Meanwhile, Alonso is asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to act now.
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“We need you to do your job, understand that we need enforcement. Not in September, not in December, we need it,” Alonso said.
But vendors who spoke to Granthshala 5 NY say they are trying to put food on the table for their families. Some admit they are working without legal permission, but say they are forced to do so because they lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“As a seller, we are not doing anyone any harm, we are making money like anyone else,” said “Face” a seller.