Critical Things to Know Before Starting a Street Vending Business

Street vending businesses are low-cost ways to earn primary and supplemental incomes. Because street vending encroaches on public space and affects the character and safety of communities, there are permits and licenses you’ll need to secure, as well as other regulations you’ll need to meet before you can successfully run a street vending business.

How to Starting a Street Vending Business

Here are the general things you should know when looking to start your business.

Find Your Location

For street vending, where you’re planning to sell is even more important than what you’re planning to sell. Remember that all public sidewalks, parks, and property require some type of permit in order for you to legally sell there. Similarly, if you’re planning to sell products door-to-door, you’ll also need a special permit.

Do some research regarding your desired locales, the type of demographics they serve and what type of foot traffic you can expect. Once you’ve found a location you fell will work for you, your community and your business, you can start to secure the necessary licenses and permits.

Other things to take into account your location include:

  • Zoning Laws: Is the area you’re most interested in zoned for business and, more importantly, is it zoned for the type of business you’ll want to have? There may also be restrictions on the number of similar businesses that can be in one area due to traffic or safety concerns. It’s also popular that there are some areas where street vending is banned altogether.
  • Business Hours: Make sure that your location keeps the type of hours that best suit your business. If you’re vending some type of snack food, you’ll probably want to find a location that sees an increase in traffic starting after lunch and through the evening. If you’re vending coffee, you might be more interested in locales with heavy traffic in the morning and early afternoon. Also, some areas in your city may not be allowed to have certain businesses operating before or after a certain time, especially if you’re near a residential area. Check with your local chamber of commerce for more details regarding restrictions on where you can operate your business.

Research Licenses and Permits

Online search engines dedicated to business permits are a great place to start to determine what exactly you’ll need and from what body of government when starting your business. License123 will provide you with a report of all the necessary licenses and permits based on just a few pieces of data, including where your business is located and the type of business.

When looking at licenses and permits, keep the following things in mind:

  • You will more than likely need permits from both your local and state government. Many street vending businesses are licensed locally, but there are other permits you may need relating to health and food safety from the state.
  • A street vending business is still a business and as such there are things to take into consideration regarding tax IDs, accounting, budgeting and more. Review the general guidelines for setting up a business and use them as an outline of your initial business strategy.

Health and Food Safety

If you’re handling any food at all, even pre-packaged food, there are health and safety regulations you must meet; most of these guidelines are set by local governments with close state or federal oversight. The United States Department of Agriculture works in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration to set forth the standards for food safety adopted by many local governments. Both sites can offer initial insight into some of the precautions you should take.

In reality, a street vending business offers a lot more flexibility than other businesses that keep you tied to one physical location for years. However, with this added freedom comes added logistical considerations, as outlined above, so be sure to carefully consider each of these before setting up shop.

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