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Frustrated by transient merchants who set up shop temporarily to target residents in and around Springville with shady deals, the Village Board has declared a nine-month moratorium on such activities while officials investigate.

“The motivation for this move is primarily transient auto sales, particularly on South Cascade Drive,” Mayor William Krebs said Monday. “They victimize the unsophisticated consumer in the community or those who can least afford it.”

Trustee Nils Wikman said he has heard complaints about unscrupulous sellers from victims ranging from young adults to an 80-year-old woman. He noted one recent deal where the price of a used car dropped from $29,000 to $17,000 over a two-day period as a potential buyer came back with better information, eventually discovering that a new car of the same model cost less than the used car one transient merchant was trying to sell.

All complaints are being investigated, the mayor said, and the attorney general has been contacted. He said local attorneys are “busy,” as well.

The moratorium puts a stop to the issuing of licenses to transient merchants, defined as any business “engaged temporarily in the sale of goods, wares, services and or merchandise from a temporary location.” That “location” can be a vehicle, trailer, box car, tent, portable shelter, empty store front, parking lot or vacant lot.

The moratorium does not apply to businesses selling vegetables, fruits or other perishable food products, garage sales, or businesses operating on land owned by that business. “Temporary” is defined as conducting business in one location for less than 30 consecutive days.

A committee has been established and is analyzing the impact transient merchants have on the community and will make recommendations to the Board of Trustees by Dec. 31. If new or modified laws are among the suggestions, the Village Board will hold a public hearing.