Do the city’s street vendors pay rent for prime sidewalk spots? How are the sidewalks divvied up between them?

Do the city’s street vendors pay rent for prime sidewalk spots? How are the sidewalks divvied up between them?

(Image: Devin Jeffrey) 

Street meat stalls, jewellery merchants and flower guys do indeed rent slabs of sidewalk from the city for between $1,1556 and $4,250 per year. Al Fresco rental rates are based on the nature of the micro-business, not the volume of foot traffic. Booths for clothing and food are pricier because they take up more space than, say, ice cream carts. Competition for sweet spots, like the corner of Queen and Peter, where there’s a long-standing mini-bazaar, isn’t as fierce as you might think; once a vendor rents a spot, he or she gets first dibs on it the following year. Also, in 2002, the city deemed the sidewalk market officially saturated, imposing a moratorium on new sellers downtown. For the indoors-averse entre­preneur, there are still plenty of jobs on the street—ones that are, um, less regulated.

• Question from Andrew Harris, King West