Where do New York City street vendors (hot dog carts, etc.) buy their supplies?
December 28, 2006 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Where do New York City street vendors (hot dog carts, etc.) buy their supplies?

Where do New York City street vendors who sell hot dogs, sodas, pretzels, etc. get their supplies? Are they like the lunch carts in smaller cities that just hit Sam's Club or BJs? Or is there a NYC Street Vendor Association that offers supplies and/or coordinates distribution? I know there are areas around the city where vendors store their carts at night, but I'm not sure if those places also offer supplies. Any and all help would be appreciated.
posted by tundro to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Western Beef sells hot dogs by the hundreds. Maybe there?
posted by billtron at 8:19 AM on December 28, 2006

I'm not entirely sure if this applies to all vendors, but where I live in Brooklyn there are several street vendor garages, where vendors park their carts. It seems that all of the supplies are delivered there by wholesalers. (I try not to look inside to closely for fear that I'll see something that makes me never again want to eat from a street vendor.)
posted by suasponte at 8:31 AM on December 28, 2006

Where do they wash their hands?
posted by notyou at 9:01 AM on December 28, 2006

notyou, the same place they go to the bathroom: nearby businesses.

susaponte's got it: supplies are delivered to a centralized location where many vendors store their carts or are gathered.
posted by deadfather at 9:22 AM on December 28, 2006

The water the dogs are boiled in kill all germs. To believe anything else is commiting mental suicide.

I spoke with my cart guy a few minutes ago. Some carts are leased and supplies are purchased through the leasor who initially helps with ordering. It is sort of a mini franchise type operation. Others own their own carts and can still order through the bulk ordering at the mini garage type places. Still others order their own. He also said that the coffee guys in the morning mostly all get thierr goods from a guying type co-op because the rolls, doughnuts and muffins have to be fresh. The exotic type carts with the fallafils (sp?) and burritos and such usually do their own purchasing.

When I last had a financial discussion with a cart guy back in 1985, the guy told me that it was worth it to stand outside in the heat and the cold if you have the right corner. He was downtown and making $70,000 a year in a cash business. I do not know how accurate his number was, but he was busy most of the day. I was making a lot less and wondering why I put my suit and tie on. Still am --- wondering that is.

Most of these guys, if you are a regular customer, (which I can no longer tolerate being) will answer your questions. I had wondered about the umbrellas they all have and who pays for them. They get those for free or even can get paid to use them if there is a promotion going on or if they are in the right location.

I have seen fierce screeming and pushing matches between vendors when one is poaching on another's set location.

And since most have identical prices, I think that they purchase from the same place and "collude" on what to charge.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:59 AM on December 28, 2006 [2 favorites]

And FYI, one of the biggest costs for street vendors is the permit to operate in a specific location. The top spot, in front of the American Museum of Natural History, costs over 300,000 / year.
posted by condour75 at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2006

That citylimits article is fantastic. I've always wondered how the food cart vendors survive in such an expensive city as NYC.
posted by camworld at 10:39 AM on December 28, 2006

you could stop by one of those vendor places and ask.
I see them on 37th street next to 9th ave every single day. you can't really miss it, it's close to a small t-mobile store and they have a billboard for polish bottles water hanging above. in the morning and early evening, there are hundreds of carts being loaded onto and off trucks.
posted by krautland at 5:40 PM on March 11, 2007

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