A program that trains and oversees young people who sell palmetto roses in downtown Charleston is introducing a change that would include more teens in the city-run operation.
The Palmetto Artisan Program, which is administered by Charleston's Recreation Department, could be extended to include teens up to age 18.
Under the current ordinance, city permission to sell palmetto roses in public areas is only given to youth in the program, who must be between ages 9 and 16.
With this change, the group hopes to encourage young people who aren't selling yet or may be selling without city permission to complete the training, said Ruth Jordan, the city’s Minority Business Enterprise Director.
Jordan also heads a 25-member task force formed last year to recommend changes and improvements to the program.
The Palmetto Artisan Program has been in place for about 12 years, but the practice of young people, primarily African Americans, selling the handmade roses in downtown Charleston well predated those policies.
Particularly during the city's busier months, sellers can bring in substantial income from their sales, sometimes up to a few hundred dollars a week.
Last July, after the arrest of a 16-year-old who had been selling roses near City Market without a permit, some community members called on the city to re-evaluate how it oversees the practice.
The task force started meeting regularly last August and plans to roll out a full set of recommendations sometime next month, Jordan said.
"The age change is just the first step," she said.
With plans to introduce a "more robust" training program incorporating lessons on financial literacy and business management, including older teens is a crucial component, Jordan said.
At that age, she said, they're more likely to be thinking about college, career opportunities and entrepreneurship.
"We're teaching them what business looks like," Jordan said.
According to the proposed change presented to Charleston City Council Tuesday evening, the new requirements would allow youth to participate between ages 9 and 18 or through high school graduation, whichever comes first.
To obtain a permit, youths must complete the city's "Biz Camp" class and provide a completed application with a parent or guardian's signature.
Many of the areas on the peninsula with the largest concentration of tourists, like the Market District, Marion Square and the Aquarium District, are off-limits to sellers, except at city-designated kiosks.
There are four kiosks for palmetto artisans: on Market Street, on East Bay street at the U.S. Customs House, at the Aquarium Wharf and at Waterfront Park.
The task force is looking at those kiosk locations to determine if any changes or adjustments are needed.
City codes also specify when palmetto artisans are allowed to sell their wares. While school is in session, they can sell on Friday afternoons and on weekends or school holidays. During the summer, they can sell daily.
The program had 35 participants last year, according to the city.