Bronx business owners say street vendors are 'out of control'

Illegal street vendors are taking over Fordham Road in the Bronx and some store owners say it's cutting into their bottom line.

"It is out of control," said Wilma Alonso, Executive Director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.

Alonso says it’s the worst from Webster Avenue to Grand Concourse. 

"We have 240 storefronts and in any given day we can have 340 vendors on the sidewalk and that is outrageous," she says.

FOX 5 NY's cameras caught many of the vendors selling without a legal permit, which has many business owners in the area upset. 

"They are street vendors they don’t pay no rent and our boss pays the big bucks for rent," says Mojib Ullah, manager of Kid City. 

Ullah claims there could be 5 to 7 vendors in front of his store on the weekends, which hurts his business. Sometimes he says the vendors put out the same items for sale as what he’s selling in his store.

In March of 2021, street vendor enforcement was taken away from the NYPD and placed in the hands of The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection. However, the DCWP will not be fully operational until September. It is in the middle of hiring additional enforcement staff. 

The DCWP has conducted 529 vending inspections and issued 232 violations. 13 of those inspections and 8 violations were on Fordham Road. 

In a statement to FOX 5 NY, a spokesperson for the agency said, "Vending is a complicated issue that touches us all—from the vendors themselves to local businesses to residents and visitors. Our goal is to hear concerns from everyone involved and strike a balanced approach that is equitable for all, which includes ongoing education coupled with scaled, strategic enforcement, especially in problematic areas."

Meanwhile, Alonso is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to act now. 

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"We need you to do your job understand that we need enforcement. Not in September, not in December, we need it now," said Alonso.

But vendors that spoke to FOX 5 NY say they are just trying to put food on the table for their families. Some did admit that they are operating without a legal permit but say they are forced to do so because they lost their jobs during the pandemic. 

"As a vendor, we are not causing no harm to anyone we’re just making money like anyone else, said "Face" a vendor.