Debbie DeBusk isn’t sure about why some issues of Real Change sell better than others, but she’s not afraid to speculate. “Some of them are dull on the front page, like that time it was kind of brown, hardly any design.” She thinks if there’s something on the cover that’s bright, the issue tends to be a big seller.
Debbie started selling The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the street years ago. She discovered Real Change when the Times discontinued weekday street sales. She wishes Real Change had the look and feel of a daily paper — a larger format, a sports page and more comics.
As far as the format, she says newspapers like the Times used to be larger. “If you look at some old TV shows like ‘I Love Lucy,’ [one of her favorites] aren’t their newspapers really big? Just think of trying to hold a newspaper in your hands that big!”
For comics, Debbie suggests Bugs Bunny holding up the paper or a monster alien flying out of the masthead. Once she might have even drawn those herself. “I used to like to draw, but I take medication and that tires me out so much now. That’s why I just don’t have the ambition to do a lot.”
Her husband wants a sports page. “He used to be a Seahawks season ticket holder until the price started going up.” Debbie would go with him to Kingdome games. “The prices were cheaper. I have never been to a game in the new stadium.”
Debbie grew up near Chief Sealth High in West Seattle but didn’t graduate there. “I went to special ed; I’ve got a little bit of learning disability. So it’s hard for me to hold down a real job. I worked in a handicapped work shelter, did odd jobs, babysat.” She continued living in her parents’ house after her father passed away. “I moved out because I got married.”
Debbie put a lot of thought into choosing her selling spot in front of the Magnolia post office. She tried the market in Magnolia, but it was slow in the mornings and someone else sold Real Change there in the afternoon. Albertson’s was even slower. Then there was Starbucks. “Starbucks goes in spurts. You get so many now, then you get another two, three and so on. I looked across the street, saw that post office and said, ‘Man, there’s a lot of people going in there.’”
She made friends with the workers at the post office, but of the three who were there when she started, two have been laid off. The selling, however, has been consistently good. “[In mid-October] I couldn’t even hold them in my hand for more than five minutes. About a month ago it was the same thing. [Everyone saying] ‘I’ll have one! Give me one!’ I wish I could have a day like that all the time!”