The daily Lives of Street Vendors


Adriana Flores

The “Veracruz Fresh Fruit” truck closes for the day.

She cruises through the streets with the loud, typical ice cream truck music. It’s an everyday job that can be tiring, but the benefits make it worth it at the end of the day. Street vendors can be found anywhere at almost every corner of major streets or neighborhoods. Taco trucks, churro stands, fruit stands, ice cream trucks, the list is endless– occupations that consist of selling food or sweets to make a living. Ice cream trucks such as the one of Adelaida Vasquez are what brings in money for rent, bills and just about everything. A majority of street vendors are self-employed. This means they control their whole schedule and the way their small business runs. While it’s required to have a permit, some vendors have no permit and risk it all to maintain their families. Some days can be successful with many earnings coming in, while others not so much. The job can be exhausting, but at the end of the day, there are several benefits, one of which is making money for their families. So what’s their story?

There are several dangers to street vending, such as vandalism of their cart or the possibility of being attacked themselves. Not so long ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill No. 946 (SB 946), making life easier for sidewalk vendors to operate legally in the state. This new law permits cities and counties to create permit programs for vendors, limiting their chances of being criminally prosecuted. This act requires cities and counties to maintain certain rules when interacting with street vendors. Vendors are required to have a license and pay taxes. A General Street Vendor license is required to sell or lease anything in public places. This legislation was introduced after hearing of a woman detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while selling food. “The bill would require a local authority that elects to adopt a sidewalk vending program to, among other things, not require a sidewalk vendor to operate within specific parts of the public right-of-way, except when that restriction is directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns, and not restrict sidewalk vendors to operate only in a designated neighborhood or area, except as specified,” states the California Legislative Information website, regarding the SB-946 Sidewalk vendors law.

Adriana Flores
There are various options to choose from in Vazquez’s ice cream truck.


Adelaida Vazquez owns an ice cream truck that patrols the streets of Santa Ana, satisfying the sweet tooth of children. Her motive to keep on working is the fact that she has to pay for her house and her bills. As a single mother of four kids, her priority is to maintain her children. Vazquez recognizes one has to maintain their family, one has to take care of their kids and allow them to grow. Giving her kids an education and a better future is what she aims for, and she always remembers that while she’s working. Vazquez initially started with a pushcart, but then got a bigger more favorable truck. She owns her own business and has extended it as she goes, because this job has helped her pay for everything she has. “One way or another I found a job in this country, that thank god, opened doors for me.” She recognizes much money wouldn’t be made working at a factory; what she makes selling sweets wouldn’t compare. She works seven days a week earning what she wants since she owns her own business. “You have to succeed positively, intelligently, and that’s good to get ahead,” said Vazquez.

Sophomore Andrea Herrera buys food or ice cream from vendors whenever given the chance. She believes there’s always a chance of them getting robbed or having their rights abused, especially with various news reports about such situations in the past. “It’s pretty sad because they’re just trying to live their lives and actually make some money and some of them are immigrants too; it’s like the only way they can make money,” said Herrera. Her thoughts on vendors are similar to those of many– she recognizes the fact that they’re hard workers trying to make a living for themselves and their families. Others state it is a problem because of some vendors not having a license.

Ivan Campos is a fruit vendor who started from zero and has lead his business to success over the past year. There have been lots of ups and downs, but besides all that, this year is going better than the last. People know his business more, therefore more is sold. Despite mechanic malfunctions with his truck, tiredness and stress, Campos has been able to make his fruit truck successful. His main motivation is the future of his children. “Day to day I’m motivated with what I do because I like it, and I know that if I leave this, everything comes down for me,” said Campos. The positive side of his business is he doesn’t have to depend on a boss. Campos started off with a small cart; before that he had nothing. Day to day, the progress is consistent, but for this to keep on going, he has to run his business. “If you don’t have the enthusiasm to work, you won’t achieve anything.”