Here at Voices of New York, we’re always interested in the stories and issues of New York City’s international corps of street vendors. Our very own Justin Chan recently interviewed a Taiwanese dumpling vendor for the blog of chef Marcus Samuelsson, asking the owner of A-Pou’s Taste, Doris Yao, about the secrets of her success selling dumplings in Manhattan’s Financial District, as well as her thoughts on recent street vendor protests.
Whereas her competitors sell halal chicken on rice, Yao sells Taiwanese pot stickers. Yao is aware that she must market her food effectively in order to make a decent profit, but in a crowd of halal stands, she is confident that her food speaks for itself. Her noodles and dumplings have become such a hit in the area that she can recognize almost every single one of her loyal customers.
Though Yao said she has received very few violation tickets, she has participated in street vendor protests against what organizers say are unfair and excessive city fines.
Actually, we protested because the city gave us high fines that were close to $1,000. For a street vendor, to make $1,000, we have to spend a lot of energy. When we don’t make a $1,000 and we get a $1,000 ticket, that really kills the business. That’s what we were protesting. We can’t make enough money to pay for those tickets.