Do Raleigh Citizens Need Protection from Mobile Retail?

By Brent Woodcox

This week, Raleigh's Economic Development and Innovation Committee passed rules for mobile retail. The story from WNCN below...

We’ve all heard of food trucks.

But how about fashion trucks?

Raleigh is working on coming up with rules for mobile retail. The owners of mobile retail trucks sell items out of truck, including clothing.

John Pugh is the owner of House of Swank, a t-shirt and clothing store on Bloodworth Street in Raleigh.

Before he had the brick-and-mortar store, he operated out of a truck he calls, “The Swank Tank.”

“We have friends in New York, LA, New Orleans and they do mobile vehicles all the time,” said Pugh.

Now Raleigh is creating rules for them.

“Looking around, I’m starting to see more of it in other cities,” said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

City leaders discussed mobile retail on Tuesday in the Economic Development and Innovation Committee meeting.

They are looking at allowing it on private property, with the property owner’s permission. But, there would be some restrictions, such as the generators could not be too loud and certain items, including alcohol and firearms, couldn’t be sold. ...
— Beau Minnick - WNCN

What is frustrating to me are some of the other regulations that are being considered:

1. Permit mobile retail in some of the mixed use zoning districts (OX, NX, CX, IX).

2. Identify development standards associated with the use, such as separation from a building, separation from a building entrance, location within a parking lot, restriction on number of hours permitted per day.

3. Requirement that merchandise be located within an enclosed trailer

4. Specify the appropriate items that can be sold

5. Prohibition of a power drop or power supply run from the building to the mobile retailer

6. Allowance for a portable A-frame sign

Why not more zoning districts? I'm not saying that we should have these opening up shop in residential areas but why shouldn't they be allowed to set up in any commercial or industrial district where permission has been granted by the private property owner?

Why should there be a restriction the number of hours for sales per day? Do we have that for brick and mortar stores? What  does it accomplish?

The merchandise has to be in an enclosed trailer? What about a sidewalk sale? Why can't some displays be outside to try to draw customers in? Again, is this illegal for brick and mortar stores?

Why are power supplies outlawed? Fire code? Shouldn't existing regulations be enough to protect against safety issues?

I feel like much of this is regulation for regulation's sake. Another symptom of the mentality that the default posture of government is to regulate or prohibit activity rather than the default setting be for freedom and individual rights.

We need to change that mentality to allow entrepreneurs and innovators in small business to prosper in Raleigh.

Brent Woodcox