Mobile vending entrepreneurs in Florida know how to think big. Over Labor Day weekend, nearly 100 food trucks from across the Sunshine State drove into Tampa to participate in what promised to be the world’s biggest food truck rally—and they were successful, shattering the previous world record of 62 trucks set last spring in Miami. IJ was there as well, to spread the word about food-truck freedom, economic liberty and the threat protectionist regulations pose to this innovative industry—and maybe to try some awesome food-truck fare.
What we found was that the residents of Florida understand that anti-competitive laws that restrict where and when food trucks can operate in order to protect the bottom lines of restaurants are wrong. Over 500 people signed up to support the Institute’s National Street Vending Initiative, and many volunteered to tell their local elected officials that Floridians support food-truck freedom. People drove from hours away, and undoubtedly would have enjoyed attending a similar event closer to home, if possible. Across the country, people are finding that more frequent, diverse, and delicious events like these are what they can expect to find more of when food trucks are allowed to vend where they want and when they want. Tighter regulations only bring growling stomachs, longer drives, and spending tax dollars far away from home.
Competition created by food-truck freedom brings lower prices and better products because restaurants and food trucks have to compete for your business. But competition can also be great fun and a source of civic pride. Before the rally was over, entrepreneurs in Miami had already announced their intentions to bring the record back home, and the event organizers in Tampa had picked a date next year to host 200 trucks! The phenomenon is not unique to South Florida, however. Creative connoisseurs in the Northeast Corridor have organized a series of Food Truck Throwdowns between Boston, New York, and Washington. Woe to the citizens of cities whose bureaucrats have banned and driven away the food trucks—some of the most innovative small business owners in America today.
IJ, too, dreams big. We envision a future where people are free to pursue building a business whether it’s on wheels (or treads) or not. Economic liberty can unlock the full potential of the creative spirit. And we need you to help us identify bad laws that stand in the way of these innovative mobile entrepreneurs. If your city has anti-competitive food truck laws that severely restrict how and when food trucks can operate, let us know—and one day the world record setting food truck rally might come to your hometown.
— Garrett Atherton
Garrett Atherton is the Outreach Coordinator at the Institute for Justice