How's Work?: The Sports Merch Peddler

Bill Vanwie will help you keep current on Steelers and Pirates gear, as he vends near the stadiums.




photo by Weston Powers
 

 

Bill Vanwie
Job:
Outdoor Vendor
 

How did you get your start?
I waited tables and [tended bar for] 20 years in about 10 different states . . . My friend told me there was [a] City Council meeting about legalizing vending in the city for the first time. They had all these food trucks and people selling shaved ice outside the tennis courts on the North Side; no one had any permits. The [council] wanted to legalize so they could charge to vend and tax it. [Once you get a spot], if you follow all the rules and pay your fee, you can keep that spot.

And you have had the same spot outside PNC Park [at Sixth Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard] since you started vending?
Since they built the stadium. I actually have a few spots now. I do Steelers, Pirates and Pitt [football] . . . I used to have a taco cart . . . and we had a hot dog cart in Market Square for two-and-a-half years. And I had another [vending spot] on Liberty and Fifth Avenue for two years. We had a soup cart there. I wanted to be the Soup Nazi of Pittsburgh.

How do you obtain the Pirates T-shirts and other items you sell? 
I have about 10 different wholesalers. I have a couple of good friends who have been doing it for years. When licensing changes, a lot of companies have to sell everything. If you go to trade shows in Vegas, you can buy $20,000 worth of Steelers stuff.

How much of your time is spent on the bureaucratic process of permits and such? 
Through the years, we’ve had our ups and downs. Lately, it’s been fairly OK. The thing that’s not very nice is that we’ll pay all this money for permits for different stands, and people will . . . set a few bags of stuff on the corner and try to sell it with no permit. They’ll cut you off and sell at the end of the game. I hire details of [off-duty] city police officers to patrol the area to see that no one is selling without a permit. I’ll pay for that out of [my] pocket.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Pennzoil Ad Shows the Dodge Demon Demolishing the Streets of Pittsburgh

New Pennzoil Ad Shows the Dodge Demon Demolishing the Streets of Pittsburgh

Watch champion drifter Rhys Millen turn Pittsburgh's streets into his own private raceway.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Ki Ramen

First Look: Ki Ramen

After a series of successful pop-ups, chefs Domenic Branduzzi and Roger Li open their Lawrenceville ramen shop.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

The tacos-and-tequila bar and restaurant on the South Side doesn't do anything wrong, exactly, but has room to grow.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

As the team prepares the inaugural class of its Hall of Honor, Mike Prisuta selects the four members of the Steelers family most deserving of inclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

No. 14 Boutique in Lawrenceville put together this chic outfit for the tricky period when summer cools into autumn.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The Glass Castle Isn't Perfect, But It's Better Than a Creepy Doll

The Glass Castle Isn't Perfect, But It's Better Than a Creepy Doll

Reviews of "The Glass Castle" and "Annabelle: Creation," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

These Pittsburgh couples certainly know how to bring the cookie table tradition to life.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Close to a half dozen local businesses, among them Savannah Hayes and Stak Ceramics, will make their debut next week at the mega interior design and home goods-focused show in New York City.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module