LOS ANGELES — One day last week, on a sunny, beautiful Los Angeles afternoon, 23-year-old Alex Salvador Morales set up shop on a sidewalk near downtown, selling freshly cut pineapple, mango and watermelon in quart-sized plastic cups for $5.
Before the pandemic, fruit stands like his dotted streets on days like this, one every few blocks on the busy stretches. With millions of people staying home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, business was so bad that many of Salvador Morales’ fellow fruit vendors hadn’t bothered to show up.
But Salvador Morales said he couldn’t afford to stop working because his family in Guatemala counts on him to send money back home. He also needs to pay his rent. It was due last Wednesday, and he didn’t have enough to pitch in his $500 for the apartment he shares with a roommate.
With the surrounding streets mostly empty, Salvador Morales had