Sidewalk: The Street Vendors of 6th Avenue - A look at the Economic Sytems, Kinship, and Social Controls by which they live.

Essay by nikki1513University, Bachelor'sA, March 2004

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The street vendors of Sixth Ave. each have a unique story about how they came to be vendors . Many of them say it was a choice they made, some ended up there because of drugs, or the inability to find work, whatever the case their life is not an easy one. The people making lives on Sixth Ave depend on each other. All of them are black males, with the exception of one black woman named Alice. Most spent time in jail for crimes committed during their crack use in the 1980's. They range in age from mid-thirties to their late fifties. About a third are Vietnam veterans, and a few say they are HIV positive. The rest would rather not know. But there are the exceptional few, like Hakim, who was a college graduate, and worked in corporate America for a law firm doing legal proofreading. He was let go from that job after an employee review.

He felt that street vendors had found a way to subsist in New York without buying into the "corporate mindset". He felt as a vendor of black books he would have work that was meaningful, and would sustain him economically and intellectually. The book vendors make decent money usually charging about five to ten dollars per book, bringing in anywhere from $70 to $150 dollars a day. Hakim makes enough to have his own apartment in New Jersey, but many others are homeless. This they say is a choice. Three of the men admit to receiving public assistance and Medicare. Like many welfare recipients, they do not live on welfare alone, and vending written matter or scavenged items helps them with their extra expenses. These extra expenses may include items like drugs, liquor, or just regular day to day items. Although...