This past weekend, police in Park Slope put the kibosh on a seemingly innocent New York City institution: the stoop sale. That's right -- the police took time out of their day to SHUT DOWN A COUPLE SELLING A FEW ITEMS ON THE SIDEWALK. When the cruiser first pulled up, the sellers believed that police were looking to cop some nearby doughnuts from a bodega (or perhaps they hoped the two cops would excitedly rummage through their vast collection of ‘Wham’ cassettes, Spring Break ’99 tees, and IKEA couture). The sordid tale was recently recounted on Brooklynian's forum:
The police shut down my stoop sale yesterday at 1pm. I was in front of my building on Flatbush Ave near Grand Army Plaza with a bike, some clothes, some dishes and a floor lamp. They pulled up and sat in the car for a minute, and I thought they were going to the bodega for coffee or something. But instead, they both got out of the car and told my partner and I, "You can't do this here."
I told them I didn't think I was doing anything wrong, and that we have a stoop sale every couple of years and have never had a problem. They asked where I lived and I gestured to my apartment building right behind me. I also said that I wasn't blocking the sidewalk--since there was probably 10 feet open.
Then the second cop asked, "Do you have a license?"
I replied that I didn't, but I also didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I was calm, but after that I sensed that the cops were getting uncomfortable because people had gathered and were observing. So I said, "I'll pack it up, no problem, officer."
And we did. Has this happened to anyone else? Also, does anyone know what the rules are about stoop sales?
Oh the humanity! Has the city become so suspicious of wrongdoing that it now polices innocent stoop sales? They are one of the few in-person interactions left in our world of the ever-expanding online marketplace and social media. I’m aware that, by NY law, second-hand sellers must obtain a license in order to hock their crap to the public, but still -- to shut down a couple trying to sell a lamp? I wonder if the NYPD has visited Canal Street lately...
Facts, theories and opinions abound, The Brooklynian message boards lit up. The far left worried that proper taxes would not be accounted for in these undocumented, rogue stoop sales. Others offered the suggestion that a local business or neighbor might have complained about the items on the sidewalk. Either way, the tradition of urban tag sale has been challenged.
My vote: Totally not cool to bust these things up. Stoop sales are awesome. They bring the community together, plus you get to see all the tacky shit that your neighbors have purchased over the years. If Craigslist legally exists, where one can purchase anything from broken microwaves to hookers, then the NYPD should worry about more serious infractions, like expired parking meters or criminals not picking up their dog’s poop.
What’s the word, citizens? Cool or Not Cool?