Small-town bureaucrats shut down teen hot-dog vendor

Holland, Michigan, is neat little town in the west of the Mitten State that is proud of his annual Tulip Festival and the Dutch heritage of many of its residents. Western Michigan is a much more conservative place than Detroit or Flint, for example, and is home to veteran Republican donors such as Jay Van Andel, one of the founders of Amway. President Gerry Ford also came from the region.

But Holland is also home to city bureaucrats who are sticklers about ordinances that had a direct impact on a teenaged boy. Nathan Dusynski, 13, was trying to help out his disabled parents and put away money for college by setting up a modern hot-dog vending cart on private property in the town. He had worked out an agreement with the owner of the property, who has a sporting goods store and a motorbike rental business. Within minutes of opening for business, Nathan was visited by Tricia Dreier, a zoning officer with Holland, to told him he must desist. City zoning officials decided that his little cart violated local ordinances that prohibits competition to brick-and-mortar restaurants from mobile food vendors.

A city official told the Mackinac Center, a free market friendly nonprofit based in Michigan, that the city is trying to find a way to accommodate Nathan, but noted that he does not pay the assessments that the six nearby restaurants pay to the city for such services as heated sidewalks. Heated sidewalks are not among the services received by the owner of the property where Nathan was stationed. 

The teen entrepreneur has now sold his cart and plans to use some of the money to lobby the state government for a change to accommodate vendors such as himself. In other cities such as Chicago, ambulatory vendors are selling gourmet food that is now the height of fashion, especially among young people.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

Filed under politics, michigan, business, freedom, democracy, government, tax, North America


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