$3000 Location Fee
A vendor asked for my advice on this situation. He's interested in a particular location near the water, and the government says there is an up front fee of $3000 to be permitted to set up the mobile food cart there for part of the year. Is this a reasonable location fee? It's a big investment to take on, so he doesn't want to jump right in.
Limit Your Risk
Limit your risk by getting some more information before you pay that much money. Get as much information as possible! Here are some of the answers you should try to get before you pay a big location fee.
- How did they come up with that $3000 fee?
- How many people will be sold permits for the same location?
- Is there going to be a lot of competition there?
- Is the price negotiable?
- Can you test the location for a while before paying for the whole season?
So depending on the information you uncover via due diligence, this may or may not be a good investment. But don't pay it until you've reduced your risk by getting as much information as you can. Then you can decide whether to pay that location fee or not. You don't want to pay the fee and then find out later that it's a bad spot.
Other Strange Requirements?
There's another question that seems like an unfair requirement on a mobile food vendor: bathrooms. How can a food cart business provide bathroom access for customers? It does show up as a “rule” in some locations… Along with other ridiculous stuff like “your cart has to have a mosquito net” when all it really needs is some kind of cover (like an umbrella).
Some of these requirements are just misinterpreted rules that people don't understand. But some of them are bad laws that are passed specifically to restrict and discourage competition from street food vendors.
So always get information and answers before you act. Do your due diligence and minimize your risk. Have more questions? Ask the street food pros in Vendors United.