Sandy keeps suppliers and customers away from West African salesmen on Broadway.
As Mohammed Bai shuffled around the corner of Broadway and West 30th Street this morning, he looked antsy, even restless. This is the corner where, most weekdays, Bai and dozens of vendors shout sales pitches at pedestrians and tourists who stop to peruse their cheap sunglasses and handbags.
“In an hour, maybe 10, 20 people come here,” said Bai, a 37-year-old salesman from the West African country of Guinea. “Sometimes it’s so full, you can’t imagine.”
In the three days since Hurricane Sandy struck, though, the sales tables have disappeared. Bai’s table typically sells scarves, cell phone cases and socks for as little as one or two dollars apiece. But on Wednesday morning, with the storm shutting down subways and regional trains throughout the city, his suppliers were still trapped in Brooklyn and the Bronx with their wares, with no way to get to Manhattan.