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VOL. 35 | NO. 5 | Friday, February 4, 2011

No panhandling, asking for tips: Vendors must follow rules

By Tim Ghianni

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Freddy Bunton, 56, a carpenter by trade, like 70 percent of The Contributor’s salesmen, is homeless.

“I am just glad to contribute what society gave to me,” he says, turning to direct a stream of tobacco juice into the dirt by his home turf: the intersection of 18th and Church, near the downtown post office.

“I chose this because it is close to where I go, my spot,” he says, looking into the cold, snowy horizon toward his outdoor “living quarters.”

Like his fellow vendors, he has gone through training to represent the newspaper and to help paint a better picture, showing the humanity of those who are homeless in this city of dreams.

Andrew Krinks, editor of the newspaper – which is a member of the North American Street Newspaper Association – runs down some of the rules vendors must live by to keep their businesses.

“You can’t sell intoxicated. You can’t ask for more than $1 (voluntary tips are welcome). You can’t panhandle with it. You can’t wear clothing that advertises another organization. There is no hard-selling. Be respectful. Be a good salesperson.”

The vendors are able to achieve greater independence through various incentives. For example, if they sell 300 copies in a month, they may “apply for permanent territory.” As long as they keep those numbers up, no other vendor is allowed in that turf.

Of course not everyone is hustling a lot of newspapers.

For example, Bunton says he only sells 10 copies a day. “I make $10 and then I call it a day,” he says. “Then there are tips, though.”

He only works Contributor sales three days a week. “The rest of the time I’m hustling cans,” he says. “I’ve got a route I work.” He says the last time he walked his route he was paid 65 cents a pound for his cans.

He sees his work as a Contributor vendor as “giving back to society,” primarily because it allows him the opportunity to “go to church regular.”

And the work itself is enjoyable enough, “because it’s good to get out in the fresh air and stuff like that.”

He moved to Nashville from Bowling Green, Ky., three years ago “looking for a better life.”

Between selling newspapers and cans, he does stop and dream about that future.

“They tell me that when you are 56, you are too old to change trades, but me, well I always dreamed of being a lawyer when I was growing up.

“Hopefully I will. Course I’ll have to go to school.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0