For nearly 35 years, Zina M. Crawford has posted up at the intersection of Central Avenue and Race Avenue to sell her “unique products.”

In a small stand on the sidewalk, a two-minute walk from the Chicago Public Library Austin branch, she sells “what people need,” she said. Throughout the years, her product selection has spanned from candy, snow cones and water in the summer to household items and cleaning supplies on any given day.

On a recent weekday, individual paper towel rolls, laundry soap bottles, Lysol spray, Shea butter containers and bags with socks and T-shirts laid on her portable table.

Prices vary based on the items. Individual paper towel rolls cost $1 while a bag with two T-shirts costs $10. Shea butter, $10, is one of her best-selling products.

On average, “on a good day” she serves 20 to 30 customers, a clientele that has taken years to build, she said.

Wearing a bright orange dress over a tie-dyed long-sleeve sweatshirt and rocking bunny ears on top of a colorful hair bandana, Crawford said she enjoys spending her days selling goods at that Austin intersection. It is also her main source of income.

“It’s quiet and calm,” she said, adding she wears bright colors so people remember her. “Everybody knows me, everybody say hey.”

She has never had issues with the city’s law enforcement because she has a vendor license and a vendor ID, she said. In many years being there, she “hasn’t had” any trouble with anyone.

City licensing requirements for street vendors vary based on the products they sell. The city of Chicago allows vendors to operate in public ways in certain areas, while other areas have been designated as “no peddling” zones.  There are several types of street vendor licenses, mostly for selling food, frozen desserts and produce.

Licenses for “street peddlers” allow individuals to move from place to place on the public way to sell merchandise, wood and uncut produce from a vehicle or pushcart.

The city also provides licenses for pop-up retailers that can be valid for up to one year, according to the city’s Department of Business and Consumer Protection.

To sell prepared food on the streets, an individual can apply for a mobile food vendor license, with several categories for motorized and non-motorized vehicles. Street vendors using a pushcart typically apply for a mobile prepared food vendor license. The license allows street vendors to sell food, coffee or other beverages previously prepared and packaged.

As of Sept. 1, 76 licenses for street peddlers and mobile food vendors in the wards that comprise the Austin neighborhood were active, according to city data.

About one and a half miles away, Alejandro Aparicio posts up with a pushcart to sell fruit in a cup and prepared corn. He has arrived at the corner of Division Street and Laramie Avenue for the last three to four years. For nearly 30 years, he used to travel the streets of Austin by foot, pushing his cart to sell prepared food.

Now that he has a steady location, business “is good, thank God,” he said in Spanish.

The best-selling fruit is watermelon. Pineapple comes second. Corn, served Mexican style — with cheese, chili powder and mayonnaise — is sold in single and double portions. Most times, Aparicio adds butter — an ingredient not typical of Mexican tradition – to adapt his products to local’s tastebuds.

Year-round, Aparicio arrives in the Austin neighborhood three to four times a week to sell his prepared food products. It is the main source of income for him and his family which also helps run the business. It also helps support his wife, who lives back in Aparicio’s home country of Mexico.

Alejandro Aparicio’s pushcart selling fruit and corn at the intersection of Division Street and Laramie Avenue | Francia Garcia Hernandez

Bitter cold or rainy days are challenging, he said. Sometimes, he decides not to come out and post up. But weather is less concerning than crime and harassment. Occasionally, Aparicio hears local passerby tell him to “leave this area and go to his area,” referring to Latino neighborhoods.

Last December, Aparicio’s son was shot in the leg when defending his father from an armed robbery.

“It still hurts,” Aparicio said in tears. “They shot my son. … Two men, wearing ski masks, arrived in a van and got out of the van. I was going to ask them what they wanted but they were coming for the money.”

Police responded to the incident. Aparicio’s son received medical care at Mt. Sinai Hospital and recovered from his injuries. He came back to work in April. Despite these challenges, Aparicio will continue to run his business in Austin’s streets.

“I’ll be here while I can,” he said.