The New York Daily News reports that there's is a "food fight" playing out in the streets of New York City as "several local supermarket chains are lobbying city health and sanitation officials to take aim at street fruit vendors, saying they are not subject to the same rules as brick-and-mortar stores and should be subject to heavier enforcement and regulation.
"The vendors, who were hammered by COVID, say the argument is a smokescreen and that they’re being scapegoated by the supermarkets."
According to the story, "Supermarket owners argue if they were to handle produce like street vendors, they’d be shut down. They claim the oversize fruit stands and improperly stored produce are harming their businesses, and that the current setup is unfair to them — they’ve got to pay costly rent, insurance, taxes and electric bills. Street vendors have few overhead costs, aside from the city permit required to operate."
On the other hand, "The vendors say they run clean stands that are subject to city inspection and are able to offer fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices to shoppers who depend on them. The program that allows many of them to operate, in fact, is a part of an effort to get more produce onto the tables of lower-income households across New York."
- KC's View:
This sounds a lot like ther complaints that you hear in some cities with vibrant food truck industries, as retailers with more traditional businesses complain that these interlopers are stealing important sales dollars without having to adhere to any of the rules and regulations that stores have to observe.
I've always been sympathetic to this complaint, but have wondered if there are ways in which these traditional stores can take advantage of the culinary inventiveness one often finds at the food trucks to infuse their own businesses with a little more animation and gastronomic excitement.
It is a little different in New York - were just talking fruits and vegetables. But to have the impact that they want to have, the grocers are going to have to push through numerous new zoning and health regulations. Because best I can tell, a lot of these vendors are obeying the rules.
So maybe there is a way to work together that benefits, in the long run, the shopper?