Avenging Vendors

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In 2009, the city of Atlanta granted a vending franchise to General Growth Properties, a Chicago-based shopping mall management company that now enjoys the "exclusive right to occupy and use all public property vending sites…including without limitation those vending sites currently occupied by public property vendors." 

Among the losers in the deal were longtime street vendors Larry Miller and Stanley Hambrick, who for years had run successful merchandise stands outside the Atlanta Braves stadium. Now each man must pay upward of $20,000 a year in rent if he wants to occupy a city-sanctioned kiosk in the same location.

"Atlanta should be encouraging entrepreneurship in these tough economic times," says Institute for Justice attorney Robert Frommer, "but Atlanta's vending monopoly stifles the economic growth that the city desperately needs." Frommer is helping Miller and Hambrick challenge the vending monopoly in state court. The lawsuit, filed by the Institute for Justice (IJ) in July, argues that the city's actions violate the anti-monopoly provision of Georgia's constitution and deprive Miller and Hambrick of their right to earn a living free from arbitrary government interference.

"I've been able to put my kids through college working here and being successful," Hambrick said in an IJ press release. "I'm fighting for my American Dream. And I'm fighting for the rights of other vendors and small businesses."

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