Everyone purchases something from a street peddler at some point in their life - hot dogs, pretzels, meat, vegetables, fruit, cold drinks, flowers, small souvenirs, or mementos from a vacation or trip.A street vendor is someone who sells food, goods and merchandise on the street or in an open-air market rather than at a traditional store. The street vendor's "store" is either a small outside area that can be locked and shut down at the end of the night, or a cart that can be moved from location to location, and taken home at the end of the day.
A street vendor sells merchandise from a cart or station located near an area where pedestrians walk by. A vendor's main objective is to make money by selling items that people need or want. Often these items are food-related, as those are the easiest permits to obtain.
Selling food or other merchandise from a cart or stand on the street may seem like a perfect way to earn a living while at the same time owning a small business. Self-employment and the opportunity to set one’s schedule, all the while being outside may seem like the best job opportunity around. With no building lease costs, overhead of employees, and few bills besides the cost of the merchandise being sold, street peddling appears to be a relatively simple business venture. However, like any other small business, street vending requires time, patience, some upfront costs, strategic planning, basic marketing strategies, and the proper licenses or permits required by the state or area.
Generally, a vendor will need to obtain a sales tax permit and a tax certificate from the government's revenue agency, a general business license from the city or county clerk’s office, and an additional vendor or peddler’s license from ones city or county government. These permits can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to obtain depending on the area and time of year. It also should be noted that many areas throughout North America only allow a certain number of permits to be given each year, so it is important to research the area where one hopes to work to be certain that a permit or license can be obtained.
A vendor will also need to be aware and be in accordance with any other registrations or licensing requirements that apply to the area in which they will be working. If the items being sold are food-related, contact with the area’s local Department of Health will need to be made in order to obtain permits as well as to be advised of health codes and regulations. A food vendor will likely be required to attend a Food Protection Course for Mobile Food Vendors.
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A street vendor's workplace is ideally a highly trafficked area located in an area with plenty of businesses and people. The weather is an element that all vendors must deal with. Days with perfect weather will yield higher profits, but vendors will also have to contend with days of pouring rain, high winds, and biting cold in which they will be lucky to break even for the day. It can be a long day that slowly drags by when no one is coming to a vendor’s cart, or it can be just the opposite with lines of people waiting to buy the items being sold.