Good piece in the New York Times about how, in Florida's Miami-Dade County, vendors "can be found in parking lots and along busy roads … They turn their open car trunks into makeshift cafeterias or grocery stores, selling produce, tamales, seafood and meats. They shout their sales pitches, lighthearted Spanish rhymes, as they follow shoppers coming and going from the stores."
Many of the vendors "are from rural Cuba; they are familiar with growing, maintaining and selling produce. Other roadside salespeople make meals like tamales from their homes and sell them on the streets, sweating in the humidity as they sit in lawn chairs next to their cars … Many of these vendors operate alone, but others, like Sabor de Mi Cuba, have a fleet of cars throughout the county that deliver tamales to customers all year. They also sell in parking lots or at businesses that welcome them, like barber shops and nail salons in shopping centers."
The Times notes that "many of these peddlers are unlicensed. In Hialeah, a Cuban American neighborhood, street vendors can get an annual license for $50 to sell items like bottled water, flowers and whole fruit." But those licenses do not extend to things like baked goods and tamales made with corn and pork."
- KC's View:
A lot of these folks are just trying to make a living, though that doesn't address the issue of food safety; it also doesn't help traditional retailers that find themselves competing with these insurgents.
That said, if South Florida is like most other places around the country, there must be a lot of retailers looking for motivated, experienced employees who would love to have more traditional jobs with regular paychecks and benefits. You'd think that somehow retailers could find a way to access all these street vendors and make them appealing offers.
Now, it may be that the regressive immigration laws we have in this country make this impossible. That's a different problem. But there ought to be a way to match people who want to work, wherever they happen to be from and whatever their immigration status, with companies that can't find enough employees.