Mobile Vendors at Fayetteville's 'Yacht Club' Draw Criticism

Not everyone in Fayetteville is celebrating the success of the occupants of the Yacht Club on College and other mobile vendors in the city.

Some more established businesses have voiced concern about what they perceive to be unfair advantages their competitors have operating out of their 126-SF trailers. Rent is cheaper. There are fewer (and in some cases no) city regulations that temporary businesses have to follow.

In one highly publicized situation, Kentucky Fried Chicken has complained to the city about Frickin’ Chicken, a fried-chicken-on-wheels operation that sits across the street. Local florists expressed their displeasure with Pigmint getting an extension on its permit.

“It is a difficult balance,” said Andrew Garner, who works in the planning division for the city of Fayetteville. “You want to encourage existing businesses to succeed and encourage those new startup businesses.”

Among those working to find the proper balance is Fayetteville Alderman Matthew Petty. He said he expects later this month or in August to introduce a new ordinance that will include updated regulations for lots like the Yacht Club and the city’s mobile vendors.

Petty said an initial survey of 40 different ordinances, including in Manhattan, Portland, Ore., and Phoenix, revealed no one-size-fits-all approach. What he hopes his ordinance will do is address the concerns of brick-and-mortar businesses while still making Fayetteville startup and mobile friendly.

What Petty would like to see is owners of lots like the Yacht Club on College submit a master site plan detailing parking, seating, water, trash disposal, electrical outlets and other “technical details.” Any mobile vendors that occupy a site longer than a year will be required to make site improvements, including infrastructure projects like sidewalks or landscaping.

Businesses operating out of trailers or other temporary setups would still be required to get a 90-day permit and then seek an extension if they wanted to stay longer. Petty likes the idea of Fayetteville offering locations for business owners to cut their teeth and hopes that the startups will eventually become fixtures in the community.

“I think anybody that’s against [mobile vendors] really needs to ask themselves what kind of benefit that this has to the economy and if this is something you want to oppose,” Petty said. “Most people realize it is a good thing.”