After an outcry from sidewalk peddlers and their fans in the community, the Evanston City Council voted Monday to postpone a final vote on an ordinance that would ban peddling around Northwestern sporting events.

Ted Borowy, of 931 Hinman Ave., spoke from his motorized wheelchair to say that he and his father, who is also disabled, have been licensed peddlers in Evanston since the 1980s.

He said a big non-resident company has taken over the inside concession operation at Ryan Field and that the ordinance is a response to their demand for a monopoly.

“Peddlers are part of mom and pop America, Borowy said, “and should be allowed to continue to sell at NU games.”

Jeanne Lindwall of 625 Library Place, an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in April’s election, said the ordinance appears to be a restraint of trade in favor of Northwestern.

A season ticket-holder for NU football, Lindwall said she’s seen no public safety issues around the stadium as a result of the presence of peddlers.

She also objected to the ordinance’s ban on reselling tickets. Fans with extra tickets now try to sell them outside the stadium at below face value, she said, adding that there’s not enough demand to justify higher prices.

“The ban is unnecessary and just plain silly,” she added.

But Dave Gaborek, an owner of Let’s Tailgate at 1805 Central St., said the peddlers compete unfairly with storefront merchants. And he said the Central Street Business Association supports the ordinance.

“Most peddlers don’t live in Evanston and don’t employ Evanstonians,” Gaborek said. “Peddlers only leave garbage behind in Evanston.”

John Mack of the NU athletic department said NU considers the peddling to be a public safety issue, but Police Chief Richard Eddington conceded that there’s no record of fans being hurt or injured as a result of the congestion around peddlers’ carts.

“But we want to prevent incidents,” Eddington said. If someone forced into the street by the congestion had been struck by a vehicle, “I imagine the issue would be, chief, what could have been done to prevent this?”

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said vendors have been part of the street carnival atmosphere on game days for years, and she moved to postpone action on the ordinance to the next council meeting in two weeks.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, seconded the motion to hold the measure, which effectively blocked action on the ordinance.

During debate on the issue Aldermen Lionel Jean-Baptiste and Don Wilson also indicated that they had reservations about the ordinance.

It wasn’t clear from the debate where the other five council members stand on the issue.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Peddlers on Central Street
    Usually, in the battle between good (NU and development) and evil (NIMBYs) it is easy to distinguish the combatants. The NIMBYs are always calling for more zoning, more regulation, more taxes, and more parking spots…while the good guys just want freedom and progress.

    This case is not so clear cut. While the restraint of trade is a bad thing, and the store owners have no right to be protected from peddlers…NU does have a right to control its licensed products, and if the peddlers are selling fakes then they should be stopped, and if they are not paying the proper sales tax then they are unfair competition. The ‘safety’ issue might be overblown..the city could put reasonable regulations on location of peddlers to prevent any dangers to the public.

    I am amused by the behavior of Alderman Fiske. She seems to like peddlers and ‘the street carnival atmosphere on game days’. Is this the same alderman who opposed the Las Palmas cafe?

    And why does it matter whether the peddlers are Evanston residents? Fiske and others keep bringing up this issue.
    If peddlers are desirable, who cares where they live? If they are a nuisance, who cares where they live?

    And Jeanne Lindwall’s comments were hilarious. During the meeting, she questioned the portion of the bill which bans peddlers up to the north end of Isabella. As she pointed out, Evanston’s borders only extend to the middle of Isabella – so the City cannot enforce regulations up to the north end of Isabella. So..if a peddler were to set up shop in the middle of Isabella street, he could evade the peddling ban, as long as he stays on the Wilmette side of the street. He might get run over by a truck, but the City of Evanston can’t touch him. Hilarious.

    1. Licensed merchandise, licensed peddlers and paying taxes
      The peddlers in question are selling NCAA licensed products with 1/3 of the purchase price going to NU. If they sell a hat for $12, a third goes to NU. If Tailgate, NU’s, exclusive, inside the park vendor, sells the same hat for $30, NU gets a third. GET IT?

      The peddlers have a city license to sell on the public way at the games, they sell licensed merchandise and they pay sales tax.

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