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Let’s introduce a level playing field

April 28, 2011
Tyler J. Wollam, Marshalltown , Times-Republican

On April 19 an article was written in the Times-Republican summarizing a city council discussion regarding the mobile food vendors in Marshalltown. In that article, it was mentioned that a representative of my Dairy Queen store on N. Third Ave. provided "undue rhetoric" to the employees of a mobile food stand located nearby. As the only authorized and official representative of my store I can say without reservation that I have never done anything of the sort, and neither have my employees under my direction.

This community discussion about the mobile food vendors is a difficult one. I believe that everyone should have a chance to operate their own business. I also feel it is important that we all play by the same rules. A "brick and mortar" restaurant like mine is subjected to a much more strict set of regulations than are the mobile vendors. These regulations are in place for the purpose of protecting consumers and the employees of those establishments. The mobile food vendors are directly competing against the "brick and mortar" restaurants by offering an alternative source for a meal. They are doing this while enjoying a significant advantage in terms of their overhead costs and a relaxed set of operational regulations. Though they are classified as such, these are not temporary vendors because they operate almost the entire year. This is the issue that needs to be taken up by the City Council.

The issue regarding where these merchants will be allowed to set up their businesses is secondary in nature. Again, it is important that we all play by the same rules, and that also applies to the business community. Banning these vendors from the downtown area is nothing more than a convenient way of eliminating competition against the existing downtown businesses. Meanwhile, the remaining restaurants in this town will still have to directly compete with the mobile food vendors in their area. That simply isn't fair. If the city of Marshalltown is going to allow the food vendors to exist within our community, then they should be allowed to file the proper paperwork and set up their food stands wherever they see fit.

In the end I support the local mobile food vendors. I feel they provide a unique variety to the local cuisine. With a level playing field, competition is never a bad thing.



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