The Occupy Wall Street protests in New York and across America (and now the world) seek greater economic justice and to reduce the power of corporations and monied interests. But one problem they’ve encountered is that small vendors that made a living in the public spaces now home to “Occupy” encampments are seeing a huge drop-off in revenue:
The Occupy movement came to Los Angeles aiming for Wall Street titans, but farmers market vendors are the first to take a real hit.
Two weeks ago, about 40 vendors who sell on the City Hall lawn every Thursday were forced off the property after protesters refused to remove their city of tents.
The mini-businesses — produce farmers, popcorn poppers, flower sellers — were abruptly moved by city officials to a new and less visible location across Main Street. Since that relocation, profits have plummeted, vendors have pulled out and shoppers have become scarce.
“The cause is good,” said Genaro Lopez, a vendor who initially helped protesters with free sodas and burritos. “But this is our bread and butter, and we’ve taken a huge hit.”
In interviews with small business vendors near the original camp in Lower Manhattan, I discovered some outright resentment of the protesters and the effect they’ve had on businesses, either forcing them to move or, because of police blockades, costing them foot traffic (and thus customers).
The irony may be too much for some to bear.