Our Vendors 

Vendor Profile: Back from the dead, here to stay

Thu, Jun 16, 2011

Brittany Langmeyer
StreetWise Staff

During this past year, StreetWise vendor Lonzell Tate nearly disappeared. Back in the December 2010, Lonzell went missing from his regular spot and it became rumored that this beloved man had actually died.

“Lonzell was the type of vendor that you always knew, if you went past Lake and Wacker, on that side of the bridge, he was going to be there,” said Greg Pritchett, StreetWise director of distribution and vendor services. So as days went by and as Lonzell never returned, many believed that he was indeed gone for good. But during April of this year, Lonzell “returned from the dead” as he was spotted by another vendor, Russell. “Russell calls me saying, ‘He’s not dead! He’s standing right here in front of me!’” said Pritchett.

Pritchett was absolutely relieved and thrilled to discover that this vendor, whom he had described as a kind, soft-spoken man who “gets the job done,” was actually healthy and alive. But Lonzell definitely did not go on vacation during his disappearance. He actually was dealing with some very serious medical problems, which caused him to drop from the face of the earth quite suddenly.

“I had a shortage of breath and I couldn’t breathe good. So I went to the hospital and they took X-rays and then they found out I had a blood clot in my lungs. So they started giving me blood thinner shots. Then they sent me to a nursing home later on and I’m still there now,” explained Lonzell. Only his sister and mother knew of his condition and he says that they simply didn’t think to let anyone know of his illness.

Today, Lonzell has been working on his health and is in much better shape than he was six months ago. He’s back on the streets in a new location on Randolph and he says that he’s going to take it easy as he sells StreetWise. When asked why he continues to sell StreetWise despite his health, he responded, “[At the nursing home], you lay down 24 hours a day, pushing buttons on the TV, and you can only watch so much. When [I’m selling], I sit down on a milk crate and it ain’t hard. Not like I’m doing any lifting or anything.”

Lonzell’s patient and relaxed style of sales is actually what makes him quite unique compared to other vendors. “Well, I sit down a lot. When you sit down, the person actually has to want to get a paper. If you’re sitting down, they actually come up and buy the paper and they want to get it. You can’t make anybody buy. They want to do it. People like to help people. Just be nice and they’ll come around,” he said.
Lonzell is back to selling and spending time with his friends at StreetWise. And as far as he’s concerned, he doesn’t plan on going missing again any time soon, which makes us here at StreetWise very happy to know.


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