South Minneapolis standing up to door-to-door salesmen

You see a closed door, but they see a possible sucker -- sale! Sorry, sale.
You see a closed door, but they see a possible sucker -- sale! Sorry, sale.

Stop me if you've heard this one.


"Who's there? Because if it's a door-to-door salesman, I want you to know that I am an angry south Minneapolis homeowner and I've had it up to here with you guys!"

Admittedly, the punchline needs work, but it's pretty much true.

After years of relentless and unwanted knocking, smiling, and schmoozing, City Councilman Gary Schiff, who represents south Minneapolis, wants the city to enact new rules that would force door-to-door shills to wear official licenses and visible I.D. badges.

Even the Girl Scouts, you ask?

Yes, even the Girl Scouts. The last thing we need is some kind of delicious-sounding cookie slush fund. (Actually, that already did happen once... not the girls' fault though, as they were merely pawns in a larger scheme. Or so they claim.)

Schiff is pushing for new city regulations that would force all salesman to have their licenses on hand and identification badges visible while they're on the beat. To Fox 9, Schiff pitched the angle that it's good for the kids.

"Nationally, we know that youth are vulnerable -- particularly in the magazine industry -- to being exploited," Schiff said.

Gary Schiff is down with Brother Ali, but not door-to-door hucksters.
Gary Schiff is down with Brother Ali, but not door-to-door hucksters.

But another interpretation is that Schiff is out to prevent the exploitation of couch-ridden residents, who run to the door hoping for a giant sweepstakes check or the return of their long-lost kitty.. instead finding someone who says that if you'll just sign over the rights to your 401(k), he can get you 18 months of Lady's Home Journal for the price of 14.

Kyle Wennemeyer, a member of the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association, said he first raised the issue after a troubling incident a few weeks ago. When a solicitor came to the door, Wennemeyer asked him to prove he had a license. The man hemmed and hawed, so Wennemery told the man, repeatedly, to get off his porch.

Wennemeyer contacted police and described the solicitor, who'd become aggressive -- his statements had "an element of threat to them," Wennemeyer told City Pages -- and called the cops again when the man was picked later up by a white van with Illinois plates.

In another case, Wennemeyer described a south Minneapolis resident who told off a salesman, only to find later that night that someone had used a pellet gun to shoot out the windows of a car in the driveway.

"My wife actually said to me I don't like you confronting these people," Wennemeyer said, "but I feel I have some responsibility to the other people in the neighborhood to confront them."

Schiff told Fox 9 he'd push for the city to take it easy on the kids trying to scrape together cash for soccer teams, maybe waiving licensing fees. The council will take up the issue during a public hearing in early November, where citizens can tell all their worst door-to-door horror stories.

You've been warned, Girl Scouts. Next time you'd better -- ah, forget it, you look like good kids. Do you still have the thin mints?

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