Street vendors selling apples and other odds and ends became a common sight during the Great Depression.
So much so that President Herbert Hoover landed in political hot water when he tried to explain away the growing legion of street corner hawkers as having “left their jobs for the more profitable one of selling apples.”
Fast forward 90 years and New York City is suddenly seeing a big jump in the number of street vendors as the jobless try to find new ways to make ends meet, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
Instead of selling apples, these newly minted street vendors are “hawking everything from leopard-print face masks and empanadas to lucky Buddha statues,” the WSJ reported.
Like their unfortunate counterparts nearly a century ago, many are selling on the sidewalks out of necessity, rather than choice, having “taken to the streets in hopes of earning a living,” WSJ noted.
Some have been more successful than others.
While established street vendors have seen their business drop by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent, WSJ reported that the latest ones appear to have found a new calling, like Desmin McBride.
Losing his job at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in the spring, McBride has more than made a go of it as a street vendor, according to WSJ.
After initially hawking masks and cleaning suppliers, McBride has expanded his street-side store to include fashion items, ball caps and George Floyd pins, WSJ reported.
The surge in the number of street vendors in the Big Apple comes with the economic outlook highly uncertain heading for the final two months of the year.
After a big burst of rebound growth in the third quarter, the outlook for gross domestic product (GDP) and jobs in the fourth quarter has suddenly become clouded as coronavirus cases spike around the country, leading to the reimposition of restrictions on businesses.