Fresh out of papers, Jim O’Donnell stands outside the University District Trader Joe’s as a regular customer approaches.
After explaining he sold his last copy, the customer hands Jim a dollar in exchange for a paper the next time she sees him.
“I’ll give you the current issue and next week’s as well. It’s interest,” Jim responds.
Jim says selling papers is not about the money, it’s about spreading a message.
“The money is not important,” he says. “The important part is trying to get people’s rights back. I’m fighting for human rights, trying to change things like getting more health care and low-income housing.”
Jim has been selling Real Change for the past year. His brother, John, who sells papers in front of Scarecrow Video, introduced him to the paper. A little over a year ago, the two were living in Jim’s car; now they share a small apartment a short walk from Trader Joe’s.
“Real Change took me off the streets,” Jim says. “I started selling papers and things just kind of clicked together.”
He’s grateful for each of his customers. He tries to help them as much as they help him by collecting the shopping carts.
Jim, 60, arrived in Seattle from Butte, Mont. on his 21st birthday and has been here ever since. He worked as a glazier for 25 years, but is now more than content selling papers.
“I’ll probably sell ’til I retire; I’ll probably sell then too,” he says, shortly before walking off to retrieve a cart.