Street vending is one of the most vivid examples of the entrepreneurial spirit in action. A truck, a cart, or even just a table can serve as a low-cost foundation for mutually beneficial trade, allowing people with little capital to invest in their future by finding customers among the people passing by, fulfilling their needs, and making their lives a little better.
In a recent video that has received more than 1 million views online, the Illinois Policy Institute tells the story of Claudia, who has sold tamales on the streets of Chicago for 11 years, putting her kids through college and employing as many as a dozen people. Her customers are clearly happy with the service she provides, but Claudia’s future as an entrepreneur is uncertain because Chicago outlaws street vending.
“Unlike almost every other major city in the country, more than 1,500 mobile vendors in Chicago are incredibly limited in what they can sell; in fact, they can only offer whole, uncut fruit or frozen desserts,” the Illinois Policy Institute explains. “These rules have forced low-income Chicagoans, primarily immigrants like Claudia on the city’s south and west sides, into a shadow market, where they work to meet high customer demand and make a living in constant fear of police harassment and hefty fines. But street vending should be a boon for the city, creating jobs and providing access to good food.”
The Illinois Policy Institute has developed a website, NoCronies.com, devoted to combating the culture of special treatment and favors that government grants to politically connected businesses and industries through tailored regulation of the economy. Through the elimination of barriers to entry in all sectors of the economy, entrepreneurs can build a better life for themselves and bring new and less expensive quality choices to their customers.
Watch Claudia’s street vending story, “Una mujer y su carrito.”
View Illinois Policy Institute’s petition to legalize street vending.