Cops Crack Down on Bedford Avenue Vendors

By Meredith Hoffman on August 6, 2012 11:52am 

WILLIAMSBURG — Cops have started cracking down on Bedford Avenue's street and sidewalk vendors, after officers said local business owners complained about "excessive" vending this summer.

Cops have made several sweeps of the popular vending strip in recent weeks, including a Saturday sweep July 21 in which they issued six summonses to vendors, Deputy Inspector Terence Hurson of the 94th Precinct said.  Cops said they have issued another five summonses in the past week.

"A number of businesses said they thought the vending was excessive," Hurson said, noting that he often receives more complaints in the summer when vendors flock to Bedford Avenue between Metropolitan Avenue and McCarren Park.

He said the vendors received summonses for a range of alleged infractions, including food trucks parking in front of meters and general vendors selling without a license.

"Some people try to sell books with other items," said Hurson, of vendors trying to skirt the law by claiming they were just book vendors (for which you do not need a license) but then "putting socks at the end of the table."

For a while, some business owners like Aya Kiriyama from Red Lantern boutique on Bedford Avenue by North Sixth Street have complained about the presence of so many vendors.

"They've hurt my business. It's not fair," Kiriyama claimed earlier this year, noting that her only relief is the summer street festival Williamsburg Walks that boots vendors from Bedford Avenue for one afternoon.

But many other business owners and staff said they had experienced no recent problems with the vendors, and claimed they spoke with the vendors themselves if they had any issues.

"I'll go out and talk with them when we have problems," said a bartender at Spike Hill who declined to give his name.

And one regular weekend vendor Nathaniel (who also declined to give his last name) claimed stores were looking for a scapegoat to blame when business was slow.

"Blaming the poor economy on street popcorn," he said, referring to street vendors, "is the worst...Stop blaming the street popcorn."

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