Food trucks, street vendors hard hit by shutdown

Street vendors say business is off because of the federal shutdown. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

WASHINGTON – Street vendors and food trucks that line up along the National Mall near the Smithsonian museums or on streets near big government offices are finding sales way off in just the second day of the federal government shutdown.

In some cases, vendors tell WTOP their sales down 50 percent to 70 percent.

Ting Mi, who runs a hot dog stand and sells souvenirs along Constitution Avenue near the Department of Agriculture, says she’s already received a frantic call from another food vendor who was worried about paying the rent.

“I told them to stay home and eat the food,” Mi said.

Many street vendors were forced to move to new locations because there was no business along the National Mall. The museums along the Mall are closed because they are federally funded.

Sammy Kim, who owns a souvenir stand that is usually parked near the Smithsonian museums, moved over to 17th Street because the tourists are still coming to see the nearby White House.

“Seventy percent of the business is gone in our spot,” Kim said.

Kim says he will wait three or four days before looking for a long-term solution.

He was in D.C. for the government shutdown in 1996. He says somehow this one seems worse.

But, it’s not just street vendors who are hurting.

On 9th Street, near the FBI headquarters, business is down at Bruegger’s, a bread and bagel store that caters to the lunch crowd.

Manager Amber Edgerton says business declined 50 percent in just one day.

“If this continues it’s going to cut hours for people,” Edgerton said.

“So it’s going to affect our business, and it’s going to affect other people, in their week-to-week paycheck.”

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