Train Spotting: Talking change with a pushcart vendor in Downtown Crossing

GOB_Pushcart_0926

News dropped last spring that Downtown Crossing’s pushcart program, a fixture of the business and shopping sector since time immemorial, is slated for a major overhaul. Following backlash that included a Charge.org petition and a public shaming from Mayor Menino, the Boston Business Improvement District allowed the 28 beleaguered vendors to stick it out for the rest of the year, but no one promised that they’d retain their licenses after that. More recently, construction projects have forced the relocation of several mobile shops, which surely makes for a pain in the neck. We asked Craig Caplan, proprietor of Unique Boutique for 20-plus years and President of the Vendor Association, what he makes of all this.

Are you hopeful you’ll be included in whatever the new pushcart program turns out to be?

I mean, they keep talking about a new program. Nobody’s explained to me what it’s going to be or how it’s going to work. So I’m a little bit nervous. I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen at the end of the year.

If you were in charge, what would you do to improve Downtown?

I think the more activity, the more programming that’s out here…They’ve done concerts. They’ve done the Thursday night block parties. Certainly, the outdoor vending program helps make it a festive atmosphere. More of that year-round will always give people a reason to make this a destination. I think the property owners need to lower a lot of the rents for these empty store spaces to get filled up. The less empty space, the better it will look. But I think that they’re doing things right. They just need to keep doing more of that, and they need to be all inclusive.

As opposed to building more luxury condos.

You know, luxury condos are fine. I mean, there’s affordable housing here as well. Bringing some of the upper-middle class and upper class down here can’t hurt. But if it’s all empty and it’s not being bought, that’s not a good thing.

Most and least successful carts you’ve seen during your time here?

The most successful carts out here would be the food carts. I’ve seen lines around the block for food. I’ve never seen that for T-shirts. The least successful cart — and it’s very ironic — in the early ‘90s, somebody came from Seattle and opened a coffee cart selling lattes and things like that. Everyone in Boston just wanted a small regular. “Gimme a small regular.” “No, we only have lattes!” Y’know? He went out of business and the coffee craze hit, like, a month after he left. Now everybody drinks that stuff all the time. He was close, but failed miserably.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…