I’m probably the only tourist in town who wonders how profitable some of these street vending opportunities really are. There was a guy who came into the restaurant last night trying to sell roses with zero success. And I wondered aloud how many places he has to go before he sells one and how many he has to sell to make a profit.
Shannon (who is used to this kind of thing) pointed out that he probably didn’t pay for the roses - they’re maybe day old or something that he picked up for a euro for the lot. And then another guy came in selling roses, which tells me that someone, somewhere has convinced these guys that this is totally worth their while.
There’s a weird kind of street vendor selling what we call “splat pigs” - a little gelatinous pig that the vendor throws at the ground to make a splat noise. The resulting blob maintains a pig face and eventually oozes back into a round pig shape again.
In addition to sending the wrong message to children about what happens to a pig when thrown from a height, I’ve only seen one of these sold - despite the fact that these vendors were all over Milan, Venice and Florence. And the really crazy thing is that these vendors all stand within ten feet of each other, which it can’t imagine improves their sales.
Are they part of a cartel? Do they pool their profits at the end of the day? If so, why don’t they syncopate their splat demonstrations so they play out a little tune?
I probably think about this stuff too much.
I will say this, though - if you can make art, you could probably make a killing as a street vendor in Florence. There are a ton of caricature artists, watercolor painters and so forth here. I imagine that after you’ve painted a miniature of the Ponte Vecchio for the tenth time, it gets much easier.