According to the Department of Licenses and Inspections in Philadelphia, a woman known as “the cupcake lady” had her converted mail truck seized last week after not having a proper permit to be running her small vending operation in the University City neighborhood.
The cupcake lady, Kate Carrara, a 35-year-old former lawyer who sells 400-500 cupcakes throughout the city daily, says the rules are just too confusing.
“It’s just the laws,” said Carrara, who paid $200 to get her truck out of the lot and was back selling cupcakes at a plaza near City Hall on Wednesday. “I’ve been trying to figure out where I can go and where I can’t go.”
Last Tuesday when Carrara showed up in University City, she said city officials with badges were waiting for her. Although she thought she was outside the zone where permits were needed, the inspectors said they had received complaints that she wasn’t allowed to be there.
Fran Burns, the city’s Licenses and Inspections commissioner, said Carrara was warned several times and inspectors suggested she move locations or get one of the licenses.
“We don’t write the law, but we do enforce it,” Burns said. “We don’t get to be the arbitrators on whether we agree with the law.”
Carrara is sticking to JFK Plaza, a popular park near City Hall where she says she has a permit to operate every Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. through Jan. 11 because neither she nor her husband, Andy Carrara can figure out where exactly she is allowed to sell.
Many criticize the paperwork involved in getting permits at City Hall and ‘ridiculous’ taxes on businesses. According to The Boston Globe, last week, the blogosphere erupted over a business privilege license the city says is required of bloggers who make money.
Many customers of Carrara’s and residents of Philadelphia are sympathetic to her.
“Small business people are what drives the economy,” said one customer. “The Philadelphia government is very difficult to navigate as a small business.”