Beach Peddlers Are Organized, Who Knew?

The city registers and taxes the 698 pesky peddlers who prowl the beaches looking for any Gringo they can catch casting even a furtive eye on their merchandise. This causes them to zoom over and press their wares on us until even the kindest vacationer can be moved to rudeness. But it must pay off for them or they wouldn’t keep hounding us.

In addition to the approximately $25 permit, they need to pony up their union credentials and their CURP card, which is kind of a national identity card and kind of a voter card. We all complain about these peddlers, but if we didn’t keep buying from them, they would go away in a hurry.

And let’s address the issue of why they all sell the same crap. They do that because they are not independent business people. They all have handlers, who drop them off at the beach in the morning, if you didn’t laze around with a hangover, you would see them tumble out of vans like clowns coming out of a Volkswagen at the circus. Tossed out after them is the stuff they’re going to be responsible for selling that day.

Since there are only a handful of companies selling stuff, there is very little diversification of product. The trinket stores in town also carry similar stuff, partly for the same reason, as pretty well off Mexicans each own several stores. We know this because years ago, the flea market on Lazaro Cardenas Blvd. in downtown Cabo was raided by the cops and everyone was thrown off the property. Turns out they were all squatting there, not paying rent for 14 years. The Ungson family that owned the land fought hard to get it back, for each of those 14 years, driving back and forth to La Paz for numerous court appearances and paying a heavy cost in attorney’s fees.

When they finally won, and dozens of police descended on the property one morning to evict the shops, about a dozen swanky new SUV’s pulled up and well-dressed Mexicans loaded the trinkets from the stores into the very nice cars. When we asked one owner why she sold what everyone else sells, the answer was, “This is what the salesmen who come through town sell wholesale to us.” When we asked them why they didn’t go online or go to the mainland and look for different merchandise, they looked at us like that never occurred to them. And it hadn’t. And it still doesn’t.

Well, they can’t say that anymore, because we suggested it. Now they have to squint their ears closed and pretend they never heard that idea because they don’t want to work that hard. They can make a fairly good living by selling boring crap, so why work harder to make more money by selling interesting, imaginative merchandise? So they can pay better wages to their sales vendors? Naw. That’s not of interest, either.