‘Peddlers’ May Soon Need License

Manor Tweaks Fees, Chamber OK’d for Grant

BLYTHEWOOD (Aug. 25, 2016) – Town Council Monday night kicked around the possibility of enacting a special license for peddlers doing business inside the Town limits. Jim Meggs, the Town’s attorney, said the license would actually cover what he called “itinerate merchants” rather than peddlers. Peddlers, he said, refers more to door-to-door sales and solicitations, whereas an itinerate merchant was a temporary, mobile business.

“We were concerned with folks who come to town, set up shop on a piece of property, in a trailer or some other kind of a setting, and offer goods and services for sale,” Meggs said, “but not from a fixed place of business and a permanent attached building with all of the required facilities that you would normally see in a qualified fixed place of business.”

As an example, Meggs provided Council with the regulations followed by Midvale, Utah. The Midvale regulations are extensive, Meggs said, requiring everything from background checks to off-street parking and access to rest rooms. The simplest approach, he suggested, would be for Council to regulate the Town’s zoning districts and allow temporary, mobile businesses to conduct trade there.

Michael Criss, Town Planning Consultant, suggested that Council also consider including food trucks in the regulations.

According to documents provided by the Town, Council is considering a two-tiered licensing structure. For regular activities (more than two sale periods of more than three days each per year), Council is considering a $40 fee for the first $2,000 of sales, plus $1.45 per each $1,000 in sales over $2,000.

For seasonal activities (not more than two sale periods of not more than three days each year, with a separate license required for each sale period), Council is considering a $40 license for the first $2,000 in sales, plus 40 cents per each $1,000 in sales over $2,000.

But tracking sales of peddlers and itinerate merchants, Mayor J. Michael Ross said, is a trick unto itself.

“A lot of those places come in and I don’t know if they ever report any sales,” Ross said, “whether it be to the state government or us.”

Council took the material as information to be discussed in depth at a future meeting.

Chamber Grant

Council also agreed to partner with the Chamber of Commerce in applying for a grant from the S.C. Municipal Association to convert the space currently being used by the Chamber in McNulty Plaza to a shared work space for small businesses that cannot afford to rent an entire space of their own.

Mike Switzer, Executive Director of the Chamber, said the Town’s $12,500 economic development grant already provided to the Chamber, would more than cover the 5 percent match required by the Municipal Association grant.

Manor Report

Steve Hasterok, Director of Doko Manor, told Council that the first quarter of fiscal year 2016-2017 was about $1,000 shy of projections, mainly because of several cancellations of events.

Saturdays are still strong, he said, and are almost entirely sold out for the next year. Fridays and Sundays, however, were weak. In an effort to drive Friday and Sunday bookings, Hasterok said he had cut rates for those days by 20 percent.

“Even with this 20 percent price cut I can still make a profit,” Hasterok said. “I can make a good profit.”

To combat late cancellations, he said, he has raised the security deposit from $300 to $500. Hasterok said the Manor had employed a two-tiered security deposit structure – $300 for 100 people or less and $500 for 101 people or more – which he said was causing problems.

“What I found with the $300 security deposit is people play games,” Hasterok said. “They would pay the $300 deposit and then all of a sudden they’d have 170 people show up.”

People would also pay the $300 deposit to reserve the space, he said, then go out shopping for a better deal. Three weeks later, they would cancel.

“By raising the security deposit to $500, they have to be a little more committed,” Hasterok said.

Board Appointments

Council also approved the appointments of Pamela Dukes to the Board of Architectural Review, and Cynthia Shull to the Planning Commission.