Original post date: July 20, 2011 – Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association website
By Jeff Dermer, SoCalMFVA Attorney with the law firm of Dermer Behrendt
The blogosphere and mainstream media has been recycling the same, poorly-reason analysis about how “unfair” competition from Gourmet Food Trucks is “bad for the local economy” and therefore discriminatory regulations that have the effect of limiting consumer choice are developed or maintained. Just this week stories coming out of Seattle, Raleigh, Jacksonville, and New York City have regurgitated this theme. The complaints are typical — “lower overhead” and “less taxes” (but not lower prices!) are reasons to ban or regulate the trucks out of existence (or at least, off the block).
As one of the Food-Truck Lawyers, I often have to rebut this argument with simple economic reasoning — which doesn’t always work so well because it is a little on the theoretical and, hence, boring side. This week’s liquidation of Borders Group, Inc., and the media and societal reaction to it illustrates why the argument is so wrong and why the advance of food trucks should be welcomed as progress and not fought.
This week Borders Group, Inc. — the parent company of the familiar book store chain — announced that it will liquidate. Borders was unable to find a buyer for its 399 stores. The first Borders opened in 1971 and it was sold it K-Mart in 1992, which helped it expand from 20 to 400 stores.
So why did Borders fail? The Wall Street Journal provides an analysis. “The fall of the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain surprised few inside Store No. 1.” (July 19, 2011, Lamenting Borders’ Death at ‘Store No. 1’ by Matthew Dolan.) The WSJ surmises that the stores lost their distinctiveness while changes in technology led to increased competition from Amazon.com and other internet retailers and e-book providers.