New York City is home to an incredibly diverse array of people, foods, crafts, and businesses—but that diversity is rarely represented by its street fairs. For years, the Big Apple's bazaars have been dominated by the same few vendors, no matter where or when they’re hosted. But now, Politico reports, Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s administration is working on bringing a bit more local flavor into the mix.
De Blasio’s administration has proposed several major changes that could benefit local businesses and communities—not to mention fairgoers’ tastebuds. Instead of allowing the same handful of vendors to run the stalls and concessions—selling the same sausages, grilled corn, novelty t-shirts, and pashminas block after block—the proposed rules would require half of all stalls to be operated by local neighborhood businesses. This would not only help make street fairs less generic, but allow store owners and restauranteurs in the community to directly benefit.
The new rules would also help more communities across New York City to host markets of their own. Right now, the vast majority of the city’s street fairs are held in just three community board districts in Manhattan. The new rules would limit the city to around 200 such events a year, and require that at least half be hosted outside of Manhattan. Together, the new rules would help more communities host fairs that directly benefit local businesses and better represent local cultures, foods, crafts, and identities.
“We’ve criticized street fairs in the past, but not on principle. These could be so amazing for New York City,” Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future told Politico. “New York City has so many independent and entrepreneurial businesses, but so few of them have been represented in street fairs that it’s been a missed opportunity.”
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