Vendor Ami Hill files suit against KDH

By on June 7, 2022

Ami Hill is legally challenging the Kill Devil Hills itinerant vendor regulations. (Photo by Kip Tabb)

Attorneys for Ami Hill announced on June 7 that Hill, the owner of #Bus252 art gallery, has filed a lawsuit challenging a Kill Devil Hills ordinance “that requires itinerant vendors to donate 100% of their profits to charity in exchange for the right to sell during the high tourism season.”

A May 27 Outer Banks Voice story reported on Hill’s unsuccessful request to receive a variance of the town’s special permit ordinance in an effort to host a regular gathering of local artists at the Outer Banks Brewing Station this summer.

Following the rejection of that request by the Kill Devil Hills Commissioners, Hill told the Voice that, “I remain flabbergasted that they can continue grasping at justifications for an obviously flawed ordinance rather than admitting they’ve missed the mark.”

In defending the ordinance, Kill Devil Hills Planning Director Meredith Guns said that such peak-season activity by itinerant vendors was unfair to “brick-and-mortar businesses who are meeting Town site requirements and contributing to property taxes.”

Here is the June 7 announcement of the lawsuit by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which describes itself as “a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse.”

“Ami Hill, owner of #Bus252, a mobile art gallery, and the Muse Markets, which feature local artists and artisans selling their wares, filed a lawsuit challenging a town ordinance that requires itinerant vendors to donate 100% of their profits to charity in exchange for the right to sell during the high tourism season (May 1 to September 30). Alternatively, vendors can request a permit to operate from the Board of Commissioners, but they must undergo an arbitrary and unduly burdensome process each time they want to sell. This puts itinerant vendors between a proverbial rock and a hard place.

“To add insult to injury, the town has created a First Flight Market, which features local artists — itinerant vendors — in direct competition with Hill’s Muse Market. The only difference is that the town-sponsored vendors can sell year-round and keep their profits. The town also rejected #Bus252’s application to participate in First Flight Market.

“The town cannot condition an itinerant vendor’s right to earn a living on surrendering profits or going to the Board of Commissioners for permission each time they want to sell,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Donna Matias. “Ami and business owners like her have a right to the fruits of their labor under the North Carolina Constitution.”

The case is Ami Hill and Muse Originals LLC v. Town of Kill Devil Hills et al., filed in the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division of Dare County, North Carolina.”

SEE ALSO: In KDH, a debate over rules on itinerant vendors


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  • John

    KDH should be ashamed of themselves.
    I’ll never spend a cent at first flight market and will spread word not to.
    They even denied her application to it and basically trying to keep her off the beach.
    Me and a lot of other locals will be cutting kdh brick and mortar out for sure now. Will be shopping and eating in kitty hawk and nags head.
    We support Ami fully and will show that stopping her will only hurt your brick and mortar more than if you let her vend and help local artists get their stuff out there.

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 6:46 am
  • Not buying it

    I thought she had a store in Kitty Hawk? Beside Art’s Place? I wonder why she got rid of it. Maybe she should have researched a little more before giving that up and thinking a school bus was the answer to not paying property taxes and the overhead that comes with owning a brick and mortar business. I was under the impression her school bus was denied at the KDH farmers market bc it simply wouldn’t fit (that’s what I read here on OBX voice last week so this article is conflicting info) and that she was offered a regular vendor tent like everyone else? I am also under the impression that the only town allowing her school bus is Kitty Hawk? What about Duck, Nags Head, Southern Shores, and Manteo? Dowdy park in Nags Head has a farmers every week – is she able to park her bus there? Manteo has one too on Saturdays. Are those towns also being sued? A lot of relevant information missing from this article – it’s comical.

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 6:51 am
  • Sean

    Go Ami!

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 7:31 am
  • Czarina

    What a hypocritical bunch of KDH commissioners! 100% of profits have to go to charity??? And yet they started markets for itinerant vendors who can keep their profits??? Hope you lose big!

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 8:17 am
  • Joe miller

    Interesting case that we can all learn from

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 8:48 am
  • Surf123

    These freeloaders are not needed. Rewrite the ordinance to prevent itinerant vendors from operating at all. Of course where can they legally peddle their wares? Can they just stop anywhere and open up the doors. They can’t do it on private property without permission, but I have seen these rolling stores just setup wherever they want to until told to leave.
    If you want to open a business you have to follow the rules that other business owners are subjected to. I do not want to see a bunch of rolling stores parked all over the place competing with those who are following the rules. Same goes for roach coaches unless the business has a real restaurant. We have enough eyesores in KDH.

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 10:41 am
  • Mary

    If paying taxes is the issue, why can’t they just agree for the participating vendors to allocate a small percentage of their profits to go toward the Brewing Station’s property taxes since they’re using that property? But 100%? That’s basically robbery. Just gonna file this under “N” for NOT COOL. I agree with John. Shame on you KDH.

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 11:03 am
  • OBX Resident

    An “Itinerant Business” means the business of soliciting, attempting to take orders, selling and/or delivery of services, goods, wares, food or merchandise of any kind within the corporate limits of the City, which is not conducted from a permanent structure affixed to real property. As an example of an itinerant business, a commissioner’s husband is employed by an itinerant food service provider. The provider does not have an ‘brick and mortar’ permanent storefront or storage facility in KDH. The commissioners husband goes from restaurant to restaurant taking orders and then the delivery goods are completed with a cold storage truck. Using Kill Devil Hills Planning Director Meredith Guns argument against vendor Ami Hill it seems that the itinerant food service vendor employing the commissioner’s husband would be deemed unfair to “brick-and-mortar’ businesses such as grocery stores who are meeting Town site requirements and contributing to property taxes. How do the current ordinances allow for the itinerant food service vendor described above? So Ms. Hill could have a few samples, and an order sheet and conduct sales, and then drive her bus to the site and deliver the goods as the food service vendor does?

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 11:12 am
  • George


    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 3:29 pm
  • OBXican

    @NotBuyingIt I believe Kitty Hawk also has an ordinance prohibiting itinerant merchants, so if the bus is being set up there, it is likely without the town’s knowledge or permission.

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 4:00 pm
  • Nosey OBXer

    I remember buying a couple of really cool hand made bird houses from a local maker who set up shop on the empty lot where the Kitty Hawk 7-Eleven gas station now sits.
    I love buying from local makers. Made in USA better than buying Walmart and cheesy souvenir shop junk.

    Just sayin…….

    Wednesday, Jun 8 @ 6:57 pm
  • Wayne

    I praised kdh commissioners! It is time to stop making Kdh look so trashy. They have places they can go and and push their overpriced art that’s what the markets are for ! Please take your bus and go to Nags Head or Kitty Hawk or duck they’d be glad to have you!

    Thursday, Jun 9 @ 8:46 am
  • Grandy

    @Not Buying It
    That part of the article is quoting her complaint directly, not reporting.
    Her complaint is her complaint; it wouldn’t include “but I was offered a tent”.

    Thursday, Jun 9 @ 8:56 am
  • Larry

    Sounds like a bunch old sandy diapers in the comments. You would rather have a bunch of corporate businesses build and destroy our home than have some local hard working artist/makers set up removable trucks, tents and busses. Everyone deserves a chance to make a living. Sorry if it doesn’t fit your job description.

    Saturday, Jun 11 @ 6:14 pm
  • Breynn

    I went into Belk the other day and there were two men with a table selling all kinds of items. The whole thing seemed odd. The sign was nicely made and they asked if I wanted to help support “some school”. I asked where they were from because I wasn’t familiar with the school. West Virginia was the reply. I told them I only donate locally. I personally do not like being “hit up” to buy or donate when I am going in and out of stores and I think it is ridiculous for our local organizations and children’s groups to have to compete with people that could be working a scam. I think the town of KDH should look at this carefully…more carefully than they do their roads and housing. 🤔❤️🙏🏻

    Monday, Jun 13 @ 3:13 pm
  • Lemonshirt

    Brings back a distant memory from my youth, when the Tastee Freeze truck would ride thru my neighborhood with its classic bells alerting us to beg $0.25 from our parents to get a soft-serve cone. Long gone are the $0.25 cones. …and the Tastee Freeze.
    But I’d sure welcome a beer truck rolling thru every now and then on these hot summer days!!

    Friday, Jun 17 @ 11:45 am