If you’re on Bainbridge Island and you hear classical music blaring from a speaker, you can bet that as soon as you turn the corner, Glenn Walker will be standing there selling his Real Change papers. “One day on accident I turned on classical music, and I knew Beethoven, but I saw a kid jumping around and some ladies told me, ‘That music that you play, you will go a long way with that, you’ll sell all your papers,’” Walker said.
“The music attracts people,” he said.
Walker is from Chicago. When asked how he ended up in Seattle, he responded, “I’ve been here a long time. I got here in 1979, then moved around a lot and ended up back in Seattle in 2003. My brother lived in Bellevue so I came to stay with him.” Growing up, Walker had three brothers and two sisters. Two of his brothers have passed away, sadly, but he’s still in contact with his remaining siblings, even though they are spread out all across the country. “They come and visit me all the time,” Walker said.
Walker’s family knew at the time that he was homeless. They were as supportive as they could be. Growing up, they were never homeless. “I didn’t know anyone lived in the street and I had never heard of it before,” Walker said. Walker wasn’t homeless in any of the other towns that he lived in, either. When his brother left Bellevue, he realized he didn’t have enough money to pay for rent and had to get a second job. “I was working at QFC in Bellevue but I quit there, I wanted to do something active and sell my papers, too,” Walker said.
These days, Glenn is inside and usually sells the paper for just a couple of hours every Tuesday and Thursday. “I haven’t sold the paper for 8 hours before, but that’s my goal,” Walker said. “One time last year on my birthday I worked 6 hours selling papers and I made $202 on Bainbridge Island,” Walker said.
He’s also engaged. He and his fiancée live together in the University District.
The best advice Walker has for other vendors is to just not stress out. “If I see someone in my spot, I just leave and find another,” Walker said. He likes selling his papers but doesn’t get upset when things don’t go his way. As for his customers he really appreciates them and all their support. They showed him how great classical music can be and how to support their neighbors.
So if you’re on Bainbridge Island, just follow the music.
Read the full July 31 - August 6 issue.
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