Vendor Profile: Karen Collette

By Katelyn Lusher


It was a sweltering, humid day when I shadowed Karen on the corner of 5th and Walnut Street in late June. I arrived around 11 am and downtown was bustling with people getting on buses and walking from work on their lunch break in suits and high heels. For Karen, the people are the best part of selling Streetvibes even when it’s unbearably hot out. She’s been selling papers since July 8th, 2008 and has several regular customers who frequent her spot. Her corner is close by a Currito downtown and the employees always make sure she stays hydrated with cups of water in the summer. While I shadowed her, one of the employees came out to chat with Karen and make sure she was doing okay and they joked around with each other. Other customers regularly see her on certain days of the week and give her generous donations for an issue of Streetvibes, which she always appreciates.

One aspect of the job that Karen loves best is that she’s able to take care of her family and her two cats that need extra care in their old age. A regular customer even gives her cat food or kitty litter to help take care of the cats! We talked a lot about kids and animals, which we both loved to see pass by on the street. Babies are her favorite when they come by in their strollers with their tiny feet and hands and dogs are always fun to watch too. Karen is the mother of five children and proud to have a grandbaby on the way as well, which she talked about often. Because of Streetvibes, she’s able to help out her family when she can.

Selling street papers isn’t always easy, however. Health problems have plagued Karen in the past and sometimes that makes it difficult to sell papers on the street. Days can be long and some people hardly look at her. People even looked at me funny because I was standing close by Karen as she sold papers. For the most part though, people are polite and will talk to Karen about her family or compliment her on her bright blue eyes, which are impossible not to notice. If you see Karen after reading this, make sure to say hello and purchase an issue from Streetvibes from her on the corner of Walnut and 5th!

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