Street vendors are everywhere. From farmer’s markets to food trucks to flea markets and craft fairs, there’s something for everyone looking for something to buy, and multiple opportunities for those entrepreneurs who want to market their wares. It seems easy: identify a venue, register with that venue and rent a space, purchase a sign, set up a table, and you’re in business. Or are you? The fact is, there’s more to it than that. Becoming a street vendor requires organization, and patience to acquire the proper licenses and permits required to operate it as a legal business.
If you’re new to the game, try selling your general merchandise at local flea markets, holiday markets, and street fairs. In most of those settings, only a temporary sales license is required. (Food is another matter which we’ll address later in this article.) That way, you’ll get a sense of whether it’s a fit for you.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Once you’ve had a few test weekends, if you decide vending is right for you, consider where your business will be located. Do this even before applying for the required legal documents because cities have laws concerning dates, times and locations for vendors to operate that could be very different from the one town to the next. That information will enter into your decision.
No matter what type of business you have, make sure that you meet all the legal standards of your state and city for a small business. That can be a bit tricky, and it varies from one jurisdiction to the next.
YOU MAY NEED:
- A sales tax permit from your state government’s revenue agency
- A tax ID number from your local government revenue agency
- A general business license from your city or county clerk’s office
- An additional vendor license from your city or county government
You will also need to comply with any general licensing and registration requirements that apply to all businesses in your state.
If you intend to sell food, an area that is rapidly gaining in popularity, contact your state or county’s Department of Health. Such departments regulate and issue food-related licenses and permits. You may be required to attend a Food Protection Course for Mobile Food Vendors in addition to taking the training necessary to obtain a standard food handler’s permit. The costs and time commitment vary by jurisdiction. FoodSafety.gov provides federal and state contacts for licensing and food safety information.
For more information on getting started as a food vendor or street vendor, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.