Wednesday, April 13, 2011

streets vs. markets

Is it better to sell on the sidewalks or in officially created outdoor markets? In Yerevan, Armenia, where Mayor Karen Karapetian has started enforcing a ban on street hawking, vendors now face the unappetizing prospect of moving to one of the city's proposed markets or being fined 10,000-20,000 Drams (or up to $53) if they are caught selling on the street. Vendors are concerned because people have to go out of their way to get to the markets, while business is easier on the street. Arka News Agency has a brief account.


eatbees said...

Better for whom, the sidewalk vendors, or the shopowners who want the competition displaced?

A whole revolution was sparked in Tunisia, essentially, over streetsellers' rights. And now this guy wants to make the same mistake? How sad.

rn said...

good points, both, eb.

I'm not sure the shopowners are all that disadvantaged by street sellers. When the street becomes a thriving market, that can actually help everyone.

And yes--in Tunisia, the government essentially criminalized survival. Globally, more than one half of the workers of the world are working off the books--in street markets and other technically illegal enterprises. In some countries, the informal economy accounts for 70 or 80 percent of the jobs. In that environment, does it even make sense to talk about a formal economy?

Jane said...

RN...I am interested in any insights you could share about favelas in Sao Paulo and/or other activists who work with them. Kind regards!

Jonathan (

rn said...


Sadly, I'm not up on recent doings in Sao Paulo. I spent a bit of time in the city two years back, but much of that was in the Centro, getting to understand the street market at Rua 25 de Marco and interviewing camelos -- street vendors.

I did visit Paraisopolis, the city's 2nd largest favela, with some architects and city planners. But I didn't get to engage the community in any meaningful way. Paraisopolis struck me as a dynamic place--lots of commerce and lots of people who lived in the favela but worked outside. The Mayor's office had a plan to modernize a zone at the bottom of the community. Sadly, this proposal seemed as if it was intended to create a buffer between the favela and the adjacent super-ritzy Morumbi neighborhood. I have no idea if it was ultimately built.

If you know more, please add more comments.

Siddhartha Joshi said...

Quite an unfortunate scenario, for both the people as well as the vendors. Hawkers selling on the streets is such a common phenomena even in India, but it seems they are being sent to markets everywhere...