Late-night solicitors lead to Tupelo ordinance review

Tupelo StockBy Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – European college students peddling educational books door-to-door during the evening hours have left a bad impression on Tupelo residents this summer, enough to prompt city leaders to consider a stricter solicitation ordinance.

Sander Sildver and Taivo Liiva, college students from Estonia working on behalf of Southwestern Advantage, have aggravated residents by aggressively canvassing city neighborhoods for information on residents with children who might buy books and software.

Jackie Newell and the rest of her family were in their pajamas at 9 p.m. Friday when they heard the knock at their door.

The college student trying to sell educational products mentioned neighbors and their children, trying to make a connection.

The Newells didn’t think much more about the uninvited late-night visitors until a neighbor living alone contacted them.

“We didn’t pay it much attention until he tried to get into our neighbor’s house using our name,” Jackie Newell said. “That upset me.”

It turns out, knocking on doors at any hour of the day is not against any local ordinance. Both Estonian college students paid $500 cash for solicitation and transient vendor licenses with the city.

Tupelo’s solicitation ordinance has no limit on what time people can knock on residents’ doors.

Newell, no relation to City Council member Jim Newell, visited with Mayor Jason Shelton on Tuesday about her concerns.

Shelton intends to review the city’s ordinances and make recommendations to the City Council to limit late-night disruptions.

“I think we can place time restrictions to keep from bothering people later at night,” he said.

Social media sites show Southwestern Advantage has received complaints from people in other communities about people attempting to sell the company’s products late at night.

Southwestern Advantage spokesman Trey Campbell said the Tennessee-based company that owns the products sold by the solicitors, said the company considers the students selling its materials independent contractors. Among the 2,200 independent contractors the company used this summer, about 1,000 were from Europe.

“These are not our employees,” Campbell said. “They’re not on our payroll, and we don’t set their work hours.”

According to solicitation license documents Sildver and Liiva filed with at Tupelo City Hall, today will be their last day selling in the city.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com

  • ashelkins

    One of the sellers knocked on our door at 9:54pm one night last week. Infuriating! We obviously need some kind of restriction if common courtesy isn’t strong enough of a code for them!

  • ashelkins

    One of the sellers knocked on our door at 9:54pm one night last week. Infuriating! We obviously need some kind of restriction if common courtesy isn’t strong enough of a code for them!

    • closeherdown

      Apparently they didnt read about the guy who shot his neighbor in the middle of the night for knocking on his back door….

    • closeherdown

      Apparently they didnt read about the guy who shot his neighbor in the middle of the night for knocking on his back door….

  • DoubleTalk

    Easy fix……Don’t answer the door, put the dog on them, place no peddler signs beside your no smoking and no weapons signs. Only in Tupelo can simple things become problems.

    • ashelkins

      True…but whether you answer or not–they still shouldn’t be knocking (quite persistently) that late at night. Period.

    • ashelkins

      True…but whether you answer or not–they still shouldn’t be knocking (quite persistently) that late at night. Period.

  • DoubleTalk

    Easy fix……Don’t answer the door, put the dog on them, place no peddler signs beside your no smoking and no weapons signs. Only in Tupelo can simple things become problems.

  • tupelojoe81

    they came to my house last Monday after 9pm as well.

  • tupelojoe81

    they came to my house last Monday after 9pm as well.

  • MidTennDog

    - “These are not our employees,” Campbell said. “They’re not on our payroll, and we don’t set their work hours.”-
    That is nothing more than a cop-out… a legal loophole. An ordinance stating no later than 7pm is not unrealistic. Even then, during the winter, it’s quite dark by 7pm and people are uneasy about opening their door to strangers in the dark. But having the ordinance state “after dark” or “after sundown” may
    be construed as too vague as there are varying shades of dark.

  • MidTennDog

    - “These are not our employees,” Campbell said. “They’re not on our payroll, and we don’t set their work hours.”-
    That is nothing more than a cop-out… a legal loophole. An ordinance stating no later than 7pm is not unrealistic. Even then, during the winter, it’s quite dark by 7pm and people are uneasy about opening their door to strangers in the dark. But having the ordinance state “after dark” or “after sundown” may
    be construed as too vague as there are varying shades of dark.