More LA Residents Turning to Street Vending

These are extremely troubling economic times, and almost everyone is feeling the effect of this most recent wave of economic hardship. Residents in the Los Angeles area are feeling the effects more than most since the cost of living is so high, and many have reacted to the hardship by selling whatever they have to offer on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything from food, clothing, small toys, and knick-knacks are sold, but unlike cities like New York and San Francisco, it isn’t always legal to sell on the streets of LA.

Jackie Lloyd is one of these Angelenos, down on her luck and selling various skin care products to passers-by. Four years ago, she had a steady job as an elementary school cafeteria worker with regular, predictable hours and guaranteed pay.

Four years ago, she was let go from that position and had nowhere to go but self-employment. She does find some joy in her current work, selling body oils, shea butter, and other skin care products. She gets to meet new people, and some days she does make decent money, but the uncertainty of pay makes it difficult to make ends meet.

Jackie spent months after losing her job seeking employment elsewhere, but has been told countless times that she’s overqualified, unable to find employment in retail, bakeries, or fast food.
Street vendors may be in their current situations for a number of reasons…

–    Underemployment
–    Inability to find work
–    Disability
–    Lack of transportation
–    Lack of legal residency
–    High cost of living

Once, this booming little industry was primarily made up of immigrants, doing what they can to make money in the country, but now the approximate 10,000 countrywide street vendors are much more diverse. Underemployment, low pay, and high cost of living contribute to the growing industry, some Angelenos even working both a regular job and a job vending on the streets to make ends meet.

Some even make more money vending than they do at their 9 to 5 job. Alex and Karina Mendez have been peddling bacon-wrapped hot dogs from a street cart while maintaining Karina’s clothing shop, and even then, they’re just barely able to pay the bills. Luckily for them and others struggling to make ends meet, pay as you go car insurance programs exist that allow low-income drivers to save on car insurance. Would one of these plans be right for you?

Vendors are popular destinations for shoppers as well, and not simply for the convenience that on-the-go shops provide. Some shoppers come to vendors for the bargains and for the opportunity to negotiate pricing with someone sympathetic to their struggle.

Unfortunately, selling on the street isn’t as simple as it seems. Law enforcement is constantly at the heels of struggling street vendors, issuing citations to those unaware that vending is illegal in Los Angeles. These citations can result in $1,000 fines or jail time, but multiple organizations are fighting for the legalization of this desperate but necessary measure. Activists are optimistic that an agreement may be reached by the fall, but until then, vendors are forced to dodge law enforcement.