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City tried to manage impromptu DNC vendors

Official: Despite complaints from license-holders, College Street sales posed no threat

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The city of Charlotte says it “tried to manage” the array of souvenir vendors along College Street that became an issue among licensed sellers tucked away in a parking lot during the Democratic National Convention.

City spokeswoman Kim McMillan said Tuesday that the city did not give any additional vendor permits to the College Street sellers, who used tables, pop-up tents and sandwich boards to hawk pins, tote bags, CDs, books and T-shirts. On Thursday, the night of President Obama’s speech at Time Warner Cable Arena, the line of vendors stretched from Stonewall to Trade Street.

“The city was aware of this type of vending activity and tried to manage it as best as possible,” said McMillan by email, citing information from a convention official. City staff would periodically ask vendors to move back in order to keep the main sidewalk clear.

“Given the level of activity uptown our highest priority was to ensure public safety and traffic control. The vendors did not pose any significant threat to public safety.”

Vendors in a South Tryon Street parking lot, which was the site for Legacy Village, paid thousands to the convention’s local host committee to sell in that space. Those vendors also had to buy Mecklenburg County selling licenses, and buy insurance.

Vendors said they were told their Legacy Village space would be the only selling site allowed during the week, with the exception of official merchandise sold inside convention venues.

Some upset village vendors eventually moved from the parking lot, which drew little foot traffic, to join other sellers along College Street, which was flooded with passersby. Others abandoned their sales efforts.

A local host committee official said last week that Legacy Village foot traffic wasn’t guaranteed, but that the committee promoted the village by allowing vendors’ signs on the village fencing, social media, and word of mouth.

The committee official deferred to the city regarding vendors selling in other areas.

Smith: 704-358-5087
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