Do vendors bring life to a city? Avi thinks so
Well now that Mr. Moe's is gone, so is Avi, but he doesn't want it that way. Avi has been trying to find private property to sell his wares, but he's having problems. He tried setting up in one area with the owner's permission, but neighbors were not having it, they don't feel that he should be selling on the street, especially when he sells the same items that they do in their stores, where they pay rent, insurance, salaries, taxes and more. It's basically the food truck argument.
Avi feels that selling on the street is a human right, it's a throwback to older days. There was a time when Coconut Grove allowed this. There were pushcarts on the streets as late as the 1990s. One of my earliest memories of Coconut Grove was seeing actual hippies selling tie dye items on Main Highway, near where the H&H Salon is now. It was the 1970s; they had the shirts hanging off of clothing racks, right on the street.
But that has been illegal in Coconut Grove for years. We even tried to get artists on the streets, just setting up an easel and painting and that's not permitted. Just last week a musician was chased away by a cop. To be sure, all the fun has been sucked out of life around here, but the bottom line is that it's the law.
I wrote about this in 2010 (photo and story here), about needing to engage people on the street. Vendors are sort of speed bumps. They slow the action, they keep people from racing from their parking spaces to their destinations, they slow down and engage people with the neighborhood. Just last week a bank commercial was filmed on Fuller Street, they filled the street with tents and street vendors and this is a major part of the commercial. It's street life, the life of a village, which was important to the commercial so they could show a lively village on screen.
Avi feels that he needs to "save the Grove." He says, "They don't want any small stores or vendors, their idea [the new landlords] is to bring big names like Gucci. and like that, turn the Grove into another Midtown or high end area, and then in five years they can sell properties for much higher prices , that's what I think, and I heard that most of the stores are on a month-to-month basis and in October their rents will double or triple, so that's why I think we should do something about Saving the Grove."
He's right about the instability in the Grove in many places. But it's like trying to fight off the over-development and zero lot lines. Where do you start?
I spoke with Manny Gonzalez, head of the BID, and he says that Avi is more than welcome to set up on private property and he's always been on his side. But Avi needs to find the private property himself. And here is where it gets tricky, the private property needs to be inside of a business, not out front. He would sort of rent space from an existing business.
Avi went to City Hall to set up a meeting with Commissioner Ken Russell. He thinks that perhaps he can be grandfathered in. He says he has been in Coconut Grove during the highs and the lows; he stuck it out, he didn't run like so many other businesses.
Avi and a friend calculated that in two years, over 200 businesses have opened and closed in Coconut Grove. That sounds like a lot, but he says he has the list if anyone wants to see it.
This is basically a case of the new Grove taking over the old Grove. It's happening all over the village.
|Avi in front of Mr. Moe's.|
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