Black Market Street: Giants Championship Parade Means Good Business for Hustlers

Albert Samaha
The Giants championship parade brought heavy foot traffic to "The Gauntlet."
Trey, one of the hustlers in last week's feature story, "Black Market Street," was excited that the Giants won the World Series. He's not really a baseball fan, and admits without shame that he is unable to name the team's batting line-up off the top of his head.

But San Francisco Giants championship means Market Street parade. And for Trey, yesterday was not about orange and black. It was about green. Specifically, it was about trading sticky green for greenbacks.

See also:
- Black Market Street: Inside a Thriving Open-Air Drug Business
- Slideshow: 1 million at Giants Victory Parade
- Photos: Sergio Romo's "I Just Look Illegal" Shirt

Albert Samaha
Another drug dealer in "Black Market Street," Bishop, mentioned that big events downtown -- he cited Pride Weekend as an example -- mean big business for the hustlers. The Giants' ticker-tape parade -- which brought more than 1 million people spread from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center, right through the heart of Mid-Market's weed hub -- was as big as it gets.

When Trey arrived at the Jones and Market corner about an hour before the parade began, he found his usual post-up spot occupied by a dense mass of onlookers who packed the sidewalk and spilled up the side streets. He alternated standing against the wall on Market and pacing up and down the block.

"With all those people going up and down the street, sometimes it was easier to just go with the flow, instead of just standing there getting in people's way," he recalled hours after the parade.

There were other hustlers around the corner, though the constantly moving crowd made it difficult to count how many. One stood in front of Psychedelic smoke shop holding a red Swisher box full of green nuggets. Others, said Trey, got caught up in the celebration and spent more time watching the floats than completing sales.

Working from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Trey said he grossed over $900, which means a profit of at least $400, nearly twice as much as he makes on an average Wednesday.

The day, however, wasn't quite as lucrative as he expected. He said that he was hoping for record profits, anticipating unprecedented foot traffic along Market Street. (He didn't make it out to the parade in 2010 -- a decision he regretted.) But, he said, there was actually too much foot traffic. The hordes of people, squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder as they plodded down the sidewalk, drowned out much of Trey's efforts.

Albert Samaha
The view from up Jones Street, toward Market.
His usual aggressive strategy of marching up to potential customers and making his solicitation was hindered by the massive rush of passersby -- like a running back trying to find a hole when a defense blitzes. It was loud, so Trey's "Weed?" pitch didn't reach pedestrians as effectively. And because everyone was there to watch the parade, Trey was rarely able to make eye contact as people walked by him.

Pride Weekend, says Trey, is still better for business than this parade day. Those festivities -- fenced off in Civic Center -- are far enough away that people aren't uncomfortable making a buy on Jones, but close enough that constant foot traffic is assured throughout the day. Today's parade, in contrast, swallowed up the Jones and Market corner, and, Trey suspected, many potential customers may have been scared off by the heavy police presence.

Still, it was a better-than-average work day for him. Attendees might not be surprised to hear that; the smell of weed smoke lingered in the air through most of the parade route.

My Voice Nation Help

It works the same way for legitimate businesses, too.  Special events with huge crowds don't always translate into bigger profits.  It's challenging for  t-shirt/souvenir vendors but especially for brick & mortar businesses because they pay employees, taxes and special user fees for the privilege of doing business in beautiful San Francisco.

hplovecraft topcommenter

 @mrburns Plus their profit$ [ brick and mortar ] stay in S.F. , instead

of going back to the EastBay via BART.. They're taxable monies..BOS just

love that !

loinmastersf 1 Like

Weed dealers in *way* in the minority. Nobody cares about them. Everybody (except the police and politicians) very much cares about the problems that the hard drugs are causing that area.

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