(Host) Vendors selling wares from carts are a common sight on Church Street in downtown Burlington. But tourists and Vermonters alike take special notice of one vendor who’s been a fixture there for more than 30 years.
“My full name is Lois Bedoki. I sell hot dogs, I have a hot dog cart….” (Sounds of Bedoki laughing.)
(Wertlieb) Lois Bedoki was born in Oregon on the Fourth of July and celebrated her eighty-first birthday last month. Each day she wheels her stainless steel hot dog cart onto Church Street and opens the umbrella on a pole in the center to shield her from the elements.
With her wavy white hair piled high, cat sunglasses, and colorful eye shadow, she just might be the most recognizable merchant on Church Street. Lois Bedoki remembers when the Marketplace was a dusty road open to one-way traffic, and she was forced to sell her hot dogs from the sidewalk.
(Bedoki) “And I really was a peddler in those days because I moved around the street. Today we call ourselves vendors because we actually vend in one spot.”
(Wertlieb) Over the years, Lois Bedoki became such a fixture on Church Street that when she took some time off to care for her husband when he fell ill, many people wondered if she had retired. There was even a rumor going around that she had move to Florida.
(Bedoki) “Heavenly Days! You couldn’t hire me to go to Florida. No, no, I’ve been right here.”
(Wertlieb) And Lois Bedoki hasn’t gone unnoticed by her peers. Stephanie Johnson sells jewelry from a cart just a few feet away.
(Bedoki) “I think that she’s really respected and kind of revered for how long she’s been out here, and for her age and for her health. I think that she just has a lot of fans.”
(Wertlieb) And, judging by her steady stream of customers, some pretty good hot dogs:
(Customer) “Hi, could I get a regular hot dog, please?” (Sound of Bedoki and a customer discussing what makes a good hot dog.) “Thank you very much.”
(Wertlieb) Of course, at just a buck a dog – $1.50 with sauerkraut or chili – Lois Bedoki admits her 30-year run is definitely a labor of love.
(Bedoki) “The toughest part about the job I guess is making enough money to make it balance itself out. And the favorite part I guess is people – that’s what my business depends on. I appreciate them so much.”
(Wertlieb) Lois Bedoki can be found selling hot dogs at the Church Street Marketplace between Bank and Cherry Streets during the summer from 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. In the winters she doles out dogs from noon till 3:00.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Mitch Wertlieb in Burlington.