The mobile vending dilemma

It’s so darn trendy there’s even a TV show about it. But do we want it here in Golden?

It’s so darn trendy there’s even a TV show about it. But do we want it here in Golden?

Various groups, stakeholders, and regular citizens got together last week to discuss the possibility of changing the mobile vending regulations in town.

As it stands now, there is no mobile vending allowed in Golden on public land, or private property. The two exceptions being Big Cones ice cream stand (who was grandfathered in), and vending at the Farmers’ Markets.

There is no shortage of factors to consider. Will it take away from local, established business? Is there a fair fee and business licensing structure? Will a mobile vending scene be effective in bringing in tourists, or will the local population be enough to support the new business?

Some local business owners (who either rent or own their store fronts) view it as unfair competition because these vendors will not be paying local property taxes.

I’m not going to pretend that this is a simple, black and white issue. But after covering two elections in Golden I have found that one common theme keeps popping up over and over again. Economic Development.

I have heard countless residents ask local politicians in one form or another how they are going to help stimulate the local economy.

The Golden economy is never going to grow if the town is turning away business. And whether you view it as legitimate, untraditional, unorthodox, innovative or annoying, mobile vending is business.

I understand why the storefront business owners are so frustrated. They have a large overhead, and are struggling to keep their businesses going in a tough economic climate.

But these prospective mobile vendors are not choosing the “cheap” way of doing business because it’s easier. They are choosing it because it is the only option they can afford.

If the town does not allow them to set up their trucks and sell on the street, it won’t motivate them to take the leap and open a storefront business. They will simply leave, and relocate to a community that wants them.

Golden gains nothing.

The Fry Guys, owners of Golden’s struggling mobile vending outfit Golden Fries, have had a rough go of it this past summer. And it is only their love of this community that has kept them here.

They set up in town the only time they were permitted to, at the Farmers’ Market, and spent the rest of their time tucked away on the side of Highway 1, east of Golden.

More accommodating communities have expressed interest in our Fry Guys, and next season they might steal them away.

Do we want this to happen?

There are a lot of people in town who have become addicted to their signature poutine, and would be sad to see them go.

Policies can always be revisited and adapted. So if the mobile vending venture turns out to be a bad one, the Town can always ammend the rules (although it may take time).

So what do we have to lose in trying?