Saturday, May 1, 2010
The other day, a young man about 17 years old approached me and offered to sell me a rose made from the palms of the Palmetto tree. There are usually several kids selling them at the Battery, but this guy was on Anson Street, a block from the City Market. I told him no thanks, and he then said, "Well here. You can have one anyway." I have a feeling that he figured I'd give him some money anyway, but instead I thanked him and asked him where he usually sells them. He said at Waterfront Park. I told him I'd send some business his way. So if you are in the park, look for the kid with the cornrows. Although this is a great venture for kids to earn a little extra money and let visitors take a unique hand-made memento home with them, the kids are supposed to be wearing a badge, much like those that the tour guides wear. A few years ago, kids were climbing trees that were on private property in order to get the palms. The mayor said that, although they were trespassing, he thought something positive could come out of this. Since then, the rose weavers have been given permission to sell the roses (although they must get the palms from other sources). Those who wear the badges have gone through an "enterpreneur-in-training" course sponsored by the city. So support them as they get a healthy dose of operating a small business. However, please buy only from those kids who can show you a badge. As of late, I've noticed quite a few vendors who don't have the badges, and when I've asked them to show their badge, they claim they've either lost it or left it home. Chances are their excuses are bogus, and they often try to sell their flowers for an inflated price. Most card-carrying vendors sell the flowers for $2 or $3 a piece. Our city prides itself on the way it balances tourism and livabilty, so support those who follow the city guidelines. Otherwise, it's not fair to the vendors who do so and only encourages those who don't to continue to outsmart the system that's in place for the good of all of us.