FEE HIKES TO KILL SPIRIT OF NEW MAXWELL STREET MARKET
—- By Steve Balkin, Professor of Economics, Roosevelt University, November 21, 2008
Maxwell Street without second hand goods is like Baskin Robbins without ice cream.
Substantially higher fees for vendors at the New Maxwell Street Market will kill off the used goods merchants there. Only the high profit vendors will remain. Left will be vendors selling prepared foods and high end new goods (e.g. sun glasses, designer t-shirts). First the City took their location; then they eradicated the Blues; now they want the junk men gone. Second hand goods merchants recycle goods, performing an environmentally useful function. It is part of the mix that generates sustainable cities.
In this time of global recession, the City should be lowering Maxwell Market vendor fees to encourage workers, sloughed off by their employers, to sell at the Market to try out entrepreneurial ideas and earn money as a safety net to help support their families. The New Maxwell Street Market is the City’s public market, and should be maintained as a celebratory showcase of ethnic and immigrant pride and promoter of positive human relations across class – not another mall for yuppies.
There are better ways to raise money for the City from the Market. Maxwell Street is world famous. The City should instead try to emulate some peddler street savvy and merchandise off of the Maxwell Street brand name — items such as souvenirs, books, CDs, and even a TV show.
Promote it; don’t demote it.