Shave Ice Purveyor Facing Jail After Beach Town’s Ban On Street Vendors

(Morton Fox)

(Morton Fox)

There’s perhaps nothing so nice as a cool treat on a hot day at the beach, but in one Rhode Island seaside town, opponents of street vendors say the mobile businesses cause too much traffic congestion and other problems. The town has now banned street vendors — except during certain times like festivals or fairs — but one purveyor of Hawaiian shave ice isn’t ready to roll out of town and away from all those beach dollars.

A man who sells $3 cups of shaved ice is refusing to back down from his spot in a private parking lot near the popular summer destination of Westerly, reports the Associated Press.

The town recently told street vendors to take a hike where daily business is concerned, saying there were safety concerns over lots of cars parking to get to carts and potentially causing traffic jams or accidents.

The shave ice seller thinks the fact that celebrities have recently started snapping up real estate nearby is the reason the town wants to clean up the look of things, despite the fact that there are plenty of normal, unfancy customers around.

“It’s a blue-collar beach,” he explains. “Justin Bieber is not going to move in.”

And he’s not going anywhere yet — he pleaded not guilty in municipal court last week to 16 counts of violating the ordinance, and is facing up to 30 days in jail and $500 for each count. It’s business as usual though, with the tip jar at his stand saying any money will go toward a bail bondsman.

So far, of the 10 to 15 vendors who used to set up in the town before the ban, two have challenged it so far. One is a hotel owner who was cited for selling ice cream from a truck on his property.

The shave ice purveyor is due back in court this week.

“I’m not doing anything wrong,” he claims. “I just want to work.”

Beach town’s ban prompts battle over shave ice
[Associated Press]

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