Opinion: Benefits Of The New Vending Act

June 16, 2015

[Opinion column written by Junior Minister of Home Affairs Sylvan Richards]

With today’s challenging economic climate, more and more Bermudians have turned to vending to make a living, especially those who would otherwise be unemployed. Bermudians are getting commercially creative and this Government encourages that entrepreneurial spirit.

This is why I was so pleased to present to the House on Friday a Bill to repeal the Pedlar’s Act 1894 in order to establish the Vending Act 2015 which will enact legislation governing vendors and vending practices in Bermuda.

This new Act will benefit both vendors and Bermuda as a whole in many ways.

With this legislation, The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] BEDC would now oversee all local vendors, instead of Magistrate’s Court as was previously the case. As the BEDC currently already provides advocacy, training, advice, and support to vendors, transferring authority to BEDC will immediately give a voice to the growing industry and allow for oversight from an entrepreneurship viewpoint. The vendors would also be included in the BEDC Business Register Database which can provide the business owner with access to data, reports, and learning opportunities which will only enhance their operations.

Additionally, vendors will immediately have access to preferential rates, terms and concessions that the BEDC has been able to/will negotiate on their behalf. This includes access to infrastructure resources [i.e. tents, tables, chairs, etc.]; discounted professional services; financing, etc. BEDC has a specific financial product for vendors with the BEDC Clarien Micro-loan – which offers 100% guaranteed loans up to $7,500 each with multiple applications allowed.

Registered vendors also get access to the power of collective marketing and promotion that cannot be achieved by ‘going it alone’. This could recently be seen with the promotion around the eight vendors who completed the 2015 Spring Vendor Market Seminar Series. Those eight vendors received the best marketing and promotion of their businesses without having to spend a dime.

Vendors also now get access to opportunities made available to them through, for example, the BEDC’s partnership with the America’s Cup. The World Series taking place in October 2015 presents an opportunity for 100 vendors to shine in front of the entire world. The BEDC is already helping some vendors fine-tune their proposals to have the best chance at success.

Having BEDC overseeing vendors just made sense. They already support The Rubber Tree Market in Warwick, The Olde Town Market in St. George’s, The Hidden Treasures Market in Somerset, and The Uptown Market on Court Street.

Regular vendors can potentially earn on average $12,000 annually with some experienced vendors making as much as $20,000 in revenue over a four month vending season. This can be a lucrative addition to many household incomes. Given the expanded opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs to generate additional revenue, with a BEDC organized vending event occurring practically every week in Bermuda, if 100 vendors vended just 26 weeks [half the year] and averaged $250 per week in vendor sales, approximately $650,000 in additional revenue would be generated annually from vending providing a bit of a boost within our economy.

The new Act includes the requirement that the vendor must be Bermudian; Spouse of Bermudian; or holder of a Permanent Resident Certificate of Bermuda. Non-Bermudians will not be eligible to possess a Vendor Licence.

Vendors will now have the option of applying for a Temporary Licence, which will be valid for a 90-day period. This provides options for those that want to test the waters with vending without having to commit for a whole year. It also gives students and seniors an opportunity to get a license for three months during times when they might only be vending seasonally i.e. the summer.

The new Act repeals the requirement to have an application endorsed by no fewer than three residents of the parish in which the applicant lives, and be replaced with reference letters by no fewer than three residents of Bermuda, irrespective of the parish in which they reside, thus cutting red tape for the applicant.

The new Act makes it an offense to conduct vendor activity on all public roadsides unless the vendor has obtained permission from the Ministry of Public Works, Department of Public Lands and Buildings. This would not include any lands owned privately. With more and more roadside vendors popping up over recent years, this new rule will help mitigate traffic congestion and blind spots resulting in accidents at roadside vending locations and ensure that Bermuda’s pristine byways are not compromised by vendors’ litter and unsightly roadside vending conditions. Previously, these unregulated roadside vending operations offered little recourse for consumers by way of refunds or exchanges if products were faulty due to some of these vendors not holding pedlar’s licences and as such, not being able to be located when needed.

To be clear, persons who vend on their own private property can do so as long as they do so within the planning rules for their property. This legislation does not prevent persons from having a yard sale or flea market sale on their property.

The new Act will help ensure vendors, who are micro-business owners, are registered and fulfil their mandatory government obligations in terms of taxes and social insurance.

There is also a new provision in the Act requiring that licensed vendors prominently display their licenses. This will take the guess work out of whether someone holds a valid license or not. The Act also provides for on-site ticketing by Police Officers to immediately curb illegal practices and behaviours.

The implementation of this new legislation will be managed from within the BEDC’s existing resources and funded from within the BEDC’s existing budget.

This Government is serious about encouraging a viable and reputable local vendor market environment with the BEDC providing tangible support and advice. We will continue to ensure that local economic development is a priority, by putting businesses and entrepreneurs first and creating sound, progressive policies for their success.

- Sylvan Richards

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Comments (2)

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  1. San George says:

    Vending will be DOA!
    Congrats on further protection for the status quo.

  2. Raymond Ray says:

    I believe the Junior Minister, Sylvan Richards has been quite explicit in making it quite clear, the new terms of the vending act. I as a consumer appreciate the steps taken by the One Bermuda Alliance in making this, “an even field to play on”, whereby all consumers can / will get justice if not respected by a vendor.
    Having license displayed is a great move, permitting the public the pertinent information e.g. what’s the dealers name that’s responsible for a product / merchandise I’d purchased and reporting them to the authorities if not respected…