CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston leaders are considering several restrictions that they believe will curb crime on King Street. Local street vendors say these new measures may put them out of business.
Charleston Booze Pops is a beloved alcoholic popsicle stand with several locations across the state. Three of those locations are on King Street.
Owner Woody Norris says he feels personally targeted from the city’s proposal.
“It’s just getting out of control with the efforts to shut down this business,” says Norris. “It’s been a non-stop battle for us from day one.”
Norris is a veteran celebrating 5 years of sobriety. He says his family is the reason why he started Booze Pops in the first place.
“Our mission statement is bringing communities together 1 booze pop at a time,” he says.
The ordinance that Charleston City Council discussed on Tuesday would prohibit food trucks from selling alcohol within 250 feet of a bar or restaurant. The city is also discussing cutting back on the vendors’ hours by making them shut down at 1:30 AM.
Those in favor of the ordinance believe that it will help reduce the number of people lingering on King Street, and encourage people to go home after the bars close.
“We believe that if we get everybody out of there at a certain time — whatever that time is, that’s part of the debate — but not encourage people to stay until 3 or 4 in the morning,” says Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds.
Rolanda Bayoumi’s family owns multiple gyro food stands on King Street. She says those late night hours are the most vital for their business.
“Just because we’re not a brick and mortar business doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to sell our goods,” says Bayoumi.
Both Bayoumi and Norris have been operating for over 5 years and feel connected to the community. Beyond selling food and drink, they prioritize keeping their customers safe by helping them get home when intoxicated.
“Instead of telling them to go away like many places do, we offer them a free water, we set them down, we ask for their phone, and we get them an Uber home safely,” says Norris.
City Council passed the measure during the first reading. It will be discussed again during future council meetings.