For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Bronxites

Vendoring At Yankee Stadium

by Myles Schulberg


n 1963, as a Bronx junior high school student needing spending cash and having reachedthe minimum age to legally work in New York City, I began a several-year stint of vendoring at Yankee Stadium. Vendor pay was twelve and a half percent commission of sales revenue, a paltry sum for lugging food trays up and down stairs, and made worse by the dismal crowd size, as the heyday of the Yankees was then waning. The challenge was to find ways to increase one's take. Several such ways did exist.

The food trays were stocked at attendant-staffed storerooms. Recorded chits were issued to the vendors to give to the storeroom attendants in exchange for the food trays. Either the storerooms were allowed some food loss or the amount of food stock was not strictly recorded, because a number of the attendants would liberally help themselves to the food, which included beer. A vendor and attendant could conspire for a tray of food to leave the storeroom without "chitting", and the selling out of that tray would bring one hundred percent revenue for split between the conspirers. If a vendor could sneak a tray of food out of the storeroom unknown to the attendant (whose attentiveness might have been compromised from drinking too much beer), the sellout of the tray would bring one hundred percent revenue for the vendor alone.

Another way for a vendor to increase his revenue was to covertly bring in his own hot dog buns or beer cups. A tray of hot dogs was accounted for not by the hot dogs, but by the buns (which said something about the quality of the hot dogs). A vendor could sell out his bunned hot dogs but still have hot dogs remaining in the tray. The vendor would earn money selling those remaining hot dogs with his own buns. When selling beer, creating a big "head" when pouring resulted in each "empty" can actually containing some beer. The vendor would earn money selling that residual beer with his own cups.

Souvenir stand vendors had yet an additional way to increase revenue. Unlike a single food item whose price was known, there were different type and priced souvenirs at the stand. The vendor could hide the price list or display a bogus price list and over-charge, pocketing the difference from the actual prices.

I hope that the concession company at today's Yankee Stadium has enhanced its internal controls. As far as my culpability back in the '60s, I believe the statute of limitations has run out.

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