City of Hamtramck lifts permit requirements for sidewalk sales to help small businesses

Notices in Arabic, Bangla, and English have been posted in the City of Hamtramck, letting its community of small business owners know that city officials have waived the permit requirements for sidewalk sales throughout the city’s main thoroughfares.

All retailers — except pawnbrokers — can now display merchandise on the sidewalks in front of their shops without having to go through city hall first.

The reason is to help small businesses weather the economic storm that is COVID-19.

"It seemed like a natural thing to do given the best practices laid out by the governor and people trying to be outside as much as possible," says Alex Iseri, Hamtramck’s community and economic development and DDA manager.

"This is about making sure our small businesses can remain open, to keep them viable by opening them up to the sidewalks and thoroughfares."

Iseri says that the city was inspired by other communities like Traverse City and Detroit, which have shut down entire blocks to automobile traffic to encourage social distancing and commerce.

While that idea also remains on the table, Iseri says that Hamtramck’s position as Michigan’s most densely populated city makes it more difficult to close any of its main thoroughfares.

There are but a few stipulations to the waiving of the permit requirement, which runs through Saturday, Oct. 31.

Goods displayed on sidewalks cannot pose risks to the environment or to people’s personal health and well-being. Goods must be contained to the sidewalk directly in front of a business. A 48-inch passageway for pedestrians must be maintained.

Sidewalk sales are permitted for Caniff and Conant streets and Holbrook and Joseph Campau avenues.

"Small businesses drive Hamtramck’s economy and now, more than ever, these small businesses need the support of the entire community. Making it easier for these small businesses to sell their goods outside not only contributes to the health and welfare of the community, but it also helps small businesses by making it easier for them to engage the casual passerby," Mayor Karen Majewski said in a statement provided to Model D.

"We believe that more frequent sidewalk sales will promote the vibrancy and dynamism of Hamtramck’s downtown, and the small businesses that make up its core."

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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