Chicago street vendors say city licensing requirements are hurting business

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Chicago street vendors say licensing requirements hurt business
Chicago street vendors said they simply want to continue working and providing for their families, without fear of fines from the city.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Across many parts of Chicago, street vendors are an integral part of the community. But those vendors saying the city's licensing requirements are making it hard to stay in business.

There's also new information about a series of robberies targeting vendors in Little Village.

The community was called to act and it worked, Little Village street vendors said about the response to help them feel more safe.

"We have more street vendors now and actually more volunteers," said Kristian Armendariz, Little Village Community Council.

RELATED | Little Village volunteers step up to protect street vendors from robberies

Chicago police cannot confirm a decrease in crime against street vendors but some in the community say more residents being present in the early morning hours when some vendors had been robbed has made a difference recently.

"This has been community groups, violence intervention groups that have worked closely with our office and the street vendors to establish safe zones," 25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez said.

During a gathering of street vendors Tuesday, the issue was city licensing. Two representatives from the City's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection listened to concerns about fines due to restrictions with the current street cart license that does not allow for preparation on the cart of traditional street foods like elote, freshly cut corn slathered with mayonnaise, cheese and chilis.

"It's an issue throughout Chicago," Armendariz said, "that is going to affect hard-working, low-income families that are already struggling to make ends meet."

Vianey Garcia says she sells tamales in morning - which is covered by her license - but the elotes and fruit that hungry students want after school is not covered.

"The vendors already have a terrible time with the incidents of violence, all the things they face, so today is the beginning of many, many meetings that we are going to have to ensure we make any amendments that are needed," Sigcho-Lopez said.

Vendors who spoke with ABC7 said they simply want to continue providing favorites for their customers and providing for their families, without fear for their safety or fines from the city.