Anthony Weston has business on the brain. After working as a StreetWise vendor for .many years, Weston has moved into a new venture with the Neighbor Carts program, a collaboration between StreetWise and Neighbor Capital to bring fresh produce to Chicagoland and also provide jobs. He has proven himself to be a skillful entrepreneur and reliable worker and hopes to continue on this path of success.
What’s your typical work day like?
I leave my house at about 5 a.m. to come and pick out my fruit. Then I load the truck up and get to my location [off of the Damen Blue Line stop] at about 10 minutes to 7 a.m. to get everything set up. I work all day and usually don’t leave until 7 p.m. When you’re trying to establish your own business, you’ve got to work long hours like that.
How did you come to Neighbor Carts?
I came to Neighbor Carts through the StreetWise program. I had heard about it through the executive director of StreetWise, Jim LoBianco. So I put the application in, took a written test, took a drug test and then did two weeks of training with Patrick O’Connor, [the StreetWise Director of Workforce Development]. I worked 40 hours for two weeks and then he put me on the training cart. They gave me $9/hour [at that point]. This was a stipend. They said that if I did well on the cart, then I’d get the chance to be an entrepreneur of my own cart. So I thought that sounded pretty good and I decided that I would invest in becoming an entrepreneur of my own cart, just as I’ve done investing in [StreetWise magazines] all these years. So this is my cart now.
What about yourself makes you cut out for this job?
I’ve been selling all of my life, so I knew I could sell. The thing is that you have to be persistent. You have to have a will. You have to want to do it and you have to be able to talk to people. And you have to have a smile on your face. You can’t doubt yourself.
What’s your next goal?
To be frank, I’m looking at the big picture… I’d like to invest the money and get a franchise of these and maybe own three carts. Then I can give some jobs to some people who are less fortunate than I am, because you can never forget where you came from.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
First of all, I’d like to thank God. Then I’d like to thank my wife for putting up with me working all of these hours. I’d like to also thank Jim LoBianco for giving me the connection and Patrick O’Connor for giving me the training. Finally, I’d like to thank all of my StreetWise customers down at Jackson and Clark.
By Brittany Langmeyer,