A new program to regulate downtown pushcart vendors and encourage sale of a greater variety of merchandise will double the number of carts in business along the Main Street pedestrian mall and on nearby side streets.
That's the result of a selection and licensing process called for in a new downtown vending ordinance passed by the Common Council April 18 after more than a year of deliberations.
Buffalo Place Inc., operator of the mall, offered 30 vending locations and attracted enough interest to license 24 of them. The list of vendors and their business spots was put before the Common Council Thursday for approval next week.
As anticipated, four vendors who have been working Main Street through the years will still be at their prime spots. Sally Bender, Joan Valetich, Jack Rubenstein and Mike Milkie have been given rights to 12 spots, most of them between Cathedral Park and the intersection of Main and Court streets.
"The rest (of the vendors) are all new," said Kimberly Williamson, assistant director of Buffalo Place.
Just as significantly, the newcomers offer variety.
Hot dogs, sausage and soda pop have been the veteran vendors' offerings.
Among the new vendors, Gerald Carlini will offer ice cream novelties at three locations and Donald Randazzo will sell ice cream and Popsicles at Main and Eagle streets. James Dombrowski will have two spots from which to sell cut flowers. Molly Desmond will have fresh fruit and vegetable salads outside One M&T Plaza. Kevin West will have coffee and Danish as part of his offerings at Court and Pearl streets.
The Market Arcade Cinema has taken the spot outside its theater complex to sell hot dogs, ice cream, candy and soft drinks. The Hyatt Regency has the rights to the location outside its Main Street entrance for the sale of food other than hot dogs.
George Holt will sell hot dogs, sausage, peanuts, chips and pop from new locations at the Delaware-Huron and Main-Huron intersections. The veteran vendors got their locations through a selection system that gave heavy weight to experience. Four of the other spots were won by newcomers in lotteries held in the City Hall office of License Director Michael R. Mulderig. All vendors will pay a yearly fee of $300 per location.
"The system seems to have worked out well," said Ms. Williamson, "We wanted to regulate vending to minimize conflict with existing stores and encourage vendors to offer a variety of products. It will add to the vitality of the mall."
Council Majority Leader James o Place menu
W. Pitts, who was chairman of numerous meetings that led to the ordinance, also was pleased. "Buffalo Place has done an admirable job in handling a complex situation. We think next year there will be even more vendors," Pitts said.
In fact, Buffalo Place would be willing to take late applications for this year for the six locations that drew no interest the first time around. They include a site for some other food than hot dogs for the busy Main-Court intersection.
The licensed vendors will be issued uniform yellow aprons and white caps by Buffalo Place officials.
But there is bad news for those who try to sell things without a license. Ms. Williamson said a Theater District police officer has been assigned to work with Buffalo Place to make sure only the licensed vendors are doing business.
"We're going to be very strict. They'll be thrown out of there," she said of unlicensed sellers.