NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A battle for the right to do business is heating up in the Bronx where unlicensed vendors are allegedly occupying sidewalks, bus stops and even crosswalks.
Vendors say they’re desperate to make a living, but businesses say it’s keeping them from making any money.
Duty-free masks, jewelry, soap and even toothpaste – all available from vendors on the sidewalk along Fordham Road near the Grand Concourse.
Some have even passed bus stops.
“When you add fakes, you add three-card Montes,” said Wilma Alonso, executive director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.
In June, police said there was even a shooting in the area stemming from a dispute with a shopkeeper, and someone unrelated was shot in the arm.
Alonso says there are 230 storefronts, but in the past few weeks she says there are significantly more unlicensed vendors.
She said businesses cannot sell outside clothing or provide outdoor seating.
Employees at Colombia Jeans say they lose customers to fake stores.
“We set our prices and they didn’t like it because they were like, ‘Well, we can get it somewhere else for $15,’ said employee Ali Santamaria.
The mayor has designated the Bureau of Consumer and Worker Protection as the primary enforcement agency for unlicensed vending, but because dealers can’t request IDs, Alonso says tickets was recently issued to John and Jane Doe.
“If it doesn’t work, it would be appropriate to bring in the NYPD to do the next level of enforcement, and that is what we will do,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Hours later, Alonso said the DCWP had joined the NYPD to ask the vendors to leave, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be back tomorrow morning.
“We understand that they are part of what makes up New York City, but we have to coexist,” said Alonso.
She wants to see them set up at Fordham Plaza.
NS Street vendor project held a protest last week saying the city should legalize street vending because the city doesn’t offer any new permits and most of the sellers are losers jobs due to the pandemic.
Jewelry supplier Ahmed Maksud said: “Every minute we look behind us. “The important thing is a ticket. Other things out there, stabbed, robbed.”
Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, Deputy Director of the Street Vendors Project, said: “People who are selling food and goods do not commit any crime if they become entrepreneurs.
For now, the city says it will hire more inspectors, but some wonder if that’s just a temporary solution to a growing problem.
The Street Vendors Project adds that food sales permits are available, but the process is not accessible to non-English speakers and those without computers.
City fines for unlicensed auto sales range from $100 to more than $1,000.