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Street Vendors Help Nourish L.A.'s Economic Gain

In large metropolitan areas, hawkers are productive fixtures within the quilted landscape of commerce. Throughout Los Angeles, these hard-working street vendors set up shop outside banks, within the big city's predominate tourist districts and in the downtown region, where special events, concerts and athletic competitions are commonplace. Whether they are selling low-cost clothing, refreshing beverages, indigenous food items, memorable souvenirs, unique paintings or out-of-print books, these hustling entrepreneurs all share a common goal – to seize an opportunity to make money.

According to Economic Roundtable, a non-profit organization based in L.A., an estimated 10,000 enterprising merchants hit the streets on a regular basis to hawk their wares. It has been a collective effort that generates more than $100 million in annual revenue. In a recently released published study, analysts report that nearly half, or 43 percent, of the mobile vendors prepare and serve edible products, resulting in direct sales totaling $42.5 million per annum. This monetary worth balloons to $67 million in local profit-making activity, when numbers from indirect sales and induced profits are factored into the equation.

Some of the figures, compiled in 2012 by UCLA's Department of Urban Planning, contributed to the analysis. The economic impact study was a venturesome project, conducted in 2014, that also examined the constructive ramifications street vendors have on their beneficiaries.

Researchers learned that the greatest benefactors include food wholesalers, property owners, advertising companies, doctors' offices, hospitals, restaurants, banks and regional grocery stores. Moreover, street vending increases a demand for products from local suppliers.

"This translates into added sales and jobs for local grocery stores, as well as other suppliers who help street vendors keep their carts in operation," the team of researchers stated in its evaluation. "These small sales add to the spending power of employees' households, supporting still more sales and jobs where those households spend their money."

Most of these on-the-go promoters that sell handicrafts or food on the street to passersby are not fly-by-night peddlers. They are industrious marketers, entrepreneurs, contractors and businessperson that work diligently to support their families while nourishing the local economy.

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to

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