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DNC organizers expand opportunities for street vendors

Private lot near Gantt Center will be available Sept. 3-7, starting at $2,300

Democratic National Convention organizers have expanded plans for street vendors to sell souvenirs and food during convention week – and the opportunity comes with a price tag.

Vending opportunities will be available at a private lot near the Harvey B. Gantt Center on Sept. 3-7. Prices range from $2,300 to $3,000 for the week for retail vendors, and $4,500 to $7,000 for food vendors.

Costs to sell only at CarolinaFest, the Labor Day event happening Sept. 3 on Tryon Street, start at $1,000 for food vendors and $650 for retail vendors.

Vendors also are required to have state and county business licenses.

Those selling dates go beyond the one-day plan announced last week, when organizers said vendors would only be allowed at CarolinaFest.

Host committee spokeswoman Suzi Emmerling said Thursday that organizers decided in recent days to allow vendors at Legacy Village, where organizers will promote Mayor Anthony Foxx’s civic-involvement programs themed around the convention.

That village will be set up at a reserved parking lot near the Gantt Center, between South Tryon and College streets.

Convention organizers realized they had extra space at the village and could accommodate vendors, Emmerling said. Organizers also were hearing from vendors who wanted more selling opportunities.

Organizers looked at Food Lion Speed Street’s pricing for vendors, and set fees lower than that, Emmerling said. Fees cover the host committee’s costs to lease the private lot for the village, Emmerling said.

Money is not going toward the host committee fundraising and the $37 million required for the convention itself.

But one potential seller who did not want to be identified calls the fees “high,” and said it may force vendors to set up in various places around town – without the required permission – and hope not to get caught.

“And $2,300 is a lot of money to come up with when you are ordering products, and stocking up for the convention,” the potential vendor said. “I don’t know a lot of vendors like us who can come up with (money) like that.”

Debbie Mangeney of Debbie’s Delights in Charlotte was hoping to be a vendor, but said the outdoor location won’t work for her handmade chocolate business.

“Outdoors that time of year is kind of tough for everybody,” she said. “Why can’t (they) find some space for the people indoors?”

Vendor applications are at www.carolinafest2012.com. Deadline to apply is July 31. Sellers of products made in America are preferred, Emmerling said.

Smith: 704-358-5087
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