‘We need to get this thing settled’ 

By on September 7, 2022

Kitty Hawk council shows support for itinerant vendors

Kitty Hawk Director of Planning and Inspections Rob Testerman (left) expressed the need for a new ordinance. James Creekmore of Kill Devil Hills talked about his experiences at itinerant vendor events in Kitty Hawk. (Photos by Kip Tabb)

At its Sept. 6 meeting, the Kitty Hawk Town Council signaled its support for allowing itinerant vendors to operate in the town, instructing Director of Planning and Inspections Rob Testerman to continue to issue permits for those vendors and calling for an ordinance that would specifically allow itinerant vendor permits.

Itinerant vendors, by definition, do not have an established place of business. Quite often, they are artists and artisans, bringing their crafts with them to temporary locations.

In August, the Town of Kitty Hawk stopped issuing permits to itinerant vendors. Until that time, itinerant vendors working with the MuseOBX Bus252 had been at the Dune Shops at milepost 4.5 on Sundays.

Testerman, in his remarks at the Sept. 6 meeting, acknowledged the need for a specific ordinance by noting that permits issued to itinerant vendors had been based on interpretations of existing ordinances with no exact language governing the permits.

To that end, he said that a strict interpretation of the town codes appears to prohibit any itinerant vendor activity, but he added that the town had been issuing permits under an interpretation of the ordinance.

“Although it’s not written into the language, the one exception to that is vendors that are participating in permitted outdoor gatherings are permitted,” he explained. “It’s not written into our town code. It’s just the way that happened.”

The need for more specific language for itinerant vendors was sparked by the use of the temporary permit for the itinerant vendor event at the Dune Shops that had been issued for five consecutive Sundays under the interpretation used in the past.

Following public comments, during which speakers advocated for allowing itinerant vendors to operate, the town council members agreed.

Mayor Craig Garliss set the tone, saying, “We need to get this thing settled.”

Addressing a concern raised in other towns that itinerant vendors have an unfair competitive advantage over traditional stores, Councilwoman Lynn McClean was dismissive of that view

“I really don’t think that the brick-and-mortar stores need protection,” she said. “Their ideas need to be heard. But if…they feel that this is competition, well competition is what makes businesses thrive. It brings up creativity.”

Owner of MuseOBX Ami Hill found that McClean’s comment was particularly helpful.

“I feel a renewed faith in these town councils, well at least in Kitty Hawk, after hearing Councilwoman Lynne McClean so clearly state that brick and mortar businesses don’t need protection and that competition is what makes businesses thrive,” she told the Voice.

The issue of how itinerant vendors affect brick and mortar businesses was also addressed directly by James Creekmore during public comment. He pointed out that he had gone to itinerant vendor events held at the Rundown Cafe and Longboards.

“I went to both of those restaurants because of the market there,” he said.

After hearing public comment and council discussion, Testerman said the planning department would probably be able to provide a draft ordinance for the planning committee by October. And admitting that his knowledge of how itinerant vendors operate is limited, he solicited advice.

“I’m not exactly an expert on the little markets and vendors,” Testerman said. “Any suggestions that are sent, we can’t guarantee it’s going to be included in what gets presented to council…but the more information I have…in developing something, the better for putting together an ordinance that attempts to work for all sides.”

The itinerant vendors who attended the meeting were encouraged by the attitude of Town Council.

“I appreciated that they acknowledged that something needed to be done now,” artist Buffy Marie said in a Voice interview. “It was affecting our daily livelihood.”






  • Bob Beckett

    will this be limited to just artist our open to anyone that wants to sell something

    Wednesday, Sep 7 @ 6:11 pm
  • Charles

    Will the itinerant vendors be required to obtain permits? If so, by the event/day/weekend or by the season? Will there be fee(s) for the permits if such are required?

    Will these vendors be required to collect and remit sales taxes? If so will there be audits to encourage compliance?

    Wednesday, Sep 7 @ 7:35 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Charles, you ask a lot of good questions. I would suggest that many of those answers will be provided when the new ordinance is passed.

    Wednesday, Sep 7 @ 9:16 pm
  • Ami

    Charles- Did you know that in the town of Kitty Hawk all that is required of a brick-and-mortar business to operate is a one sheeter with the owner’s name, home address and phone # on it, when I opened my b&m I was told they just wanted to know who to call if it caught fire… No one makes sure these b&m businesses are paying their taxes, will you begin to demand audits on all of the businesses that operate in the town? Mobile groomers, handymen, chefs, the knife sharpening guy, masseuses, etc, none of them are required to do anything at all to operate. All mobile food units are already required to be inspected by the Dare County Health Dept. Mobile businesses and food units are businesses the same as any other business, they are required to file and pay taxes just the same as everyone else. We carry loads of insurance policies, possibly more than a b&m. We all use Square or Clover or Paypal or similar POS systems the same as any b&m business. These businesses are owned by your neighbors. The owner of any b&m business could pack up and scoot town at any time, they could run their business illegally and fail to pay taxes, rip off customers and vendors and then just leave town. There is literally nothing different in risk accept that a giant coral bus or wrapped food trailer, registered to the state through DMV, would actually be easier to locate in such an instance. I feel like fear and lack of knowledge fuels most if not all naysayers

    Thursday, Sep 8 @ 1:55 pm
  • Travis

    Happy that Kitty Hawk is willing to be the laboratory on itinerant vendors. I hope the other towns will hold off on taking any steps to permanently legalize these operations until they see how things play out in Kitty Hawk.

    Nobody can predict the future. The law of unintended consequences is untested here.

    Thursday, Sep 8 @ 3:55 pm
  • Andrew

    I think this is a great idea! I’d love to see more Farmer’s Market style events showcasing local produce, artists, craftspeople, food, drinks, etc. Especially in the off-season. And why couldn’t B&M businesses apply for the itinerate vendor licenses as well? This is a great potential opportunity for a lot of people. Let the free market decide if this is successful or not.

    Sunday, Sep 11 @ 3:49 pm
  • Charles

    I must say that I am not a resident of the Outer Banks or even North Carolina. Merely an enthusiastic visitor. My questions were based on observing government activities at gun shows and flea markets once held at the fairgrounds in Nashville TN. In those activities individual vendors rented spaces from the event operators while government representatives went vendor to vendor passing out sales tax forms and offering explanations. Vendors at the gun shows who wished to deal in firearms were also required to have federal firearms licenses, state licenses, and brick and mortar locations in the state. From what I’ve read about this Outer Banks situation firearms are not relevant to the permitting process. I mentioned it only to point out how one government unit dealt with the sales tax question. The Nashville vendors registered only with the event sponsor for the privilege of being there. Government representatives were only involved in collecting sales tax. All is mere history in Nashville now as both events have been gone several years.

    Sunday, Sep 11 @ 4:47 pm