Vendors frustrated over business license procedure

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

During the Danville City Commission meeting Monday night, representatives of a community vendor event in Danville expressed their displeasure at a city ordinance which requires every vendor to purchase a business license or a temporary, 5-day license, in order for them to sell their goods at events.

“I think our leaders need to know how this is affecting all of the people,” said Claudia Fisher, who is helping organize an event in November to raise money for the Danville Fire Department Toy Drive, which will be held at The Showroom.

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The ordinance has been in place for at least two years now, said City Attorney Stephen Dexter. It requires that the organizer of the event, in this case, Fisher, to obtain copies of the vendors’ business licenses. If they do not have a business license, the vendor must pay $25 to obtain a license, or obtain a temporary license which lasts for five days. Holders of the business license must file net profit paperwork at the end of the year for tax purposes, said Michelle Gosser, city finance officer.

Those with a temporary license are not required to do so.

“That’s what the law is,” said Dexter. “While I do have sympathy, I don’t recommend any changes be done.”

There is an exemption, said City Manager Ron Scott, for those events that are purely charitable — events for which no money is made and all is donated. In those cases, no license must be obtained.

Fisher said the news of the required licenses, which she only found out about a few weeks ago, had put a damper on their event. Initially, she said, there were about 45 vendors.

But about half of those have dropped out, and the money they were going to make for the toy drive was likely going to drop from around $1,000 to around $100.

“We have considered canceling, but we feel we need to do it,” she said.

Dexter said the process was the same for any event held in the city — the Great American Brass Band Festival, farmers markets and others.

“Even the smallest tomato seller has to have a license,” Dexter said. “Any major city has a similar license that is more expensive and more restrictive.”

Fisher said she thought these vendor events were going to “fizzle out” with this ordinance in place.

Nicole Glasscock with The Showroom asked if they could do anything to help, such as purchase some type of special license, since they host several vendor events a year.

Dexter said that in some cases the venue has chosen to pay the fee to the city for the vendors, but otherwise, no.

Jim Leavell, another community member, called the ordinance “intrusive” and tried to press the commission for a show of hands to see who was in support of the ordinance. 

Mayor Mike Perros said, “with all due respect,” the commissioners were not going to do so.

Leavell, who continued to persist beyond his allotted three minutes, agreed to sit down when Perros motioned to Assistant Police Chief Robert Estill.