Jimmie Becklass has been a StreetWise vendor for five years and has truly made a home for himself selling outside of a Starbucks on West Taylor Street. Throughout the interview, Jimmie’s answers were peppered with greetings, jokes, and well wishes from countless regular customers passing by. His relentless positivity and sense of humor seems to inspire everyone who comes into contact with him.
MARISSA: What has been your greatest challenge?
JIMMIE: Helping the customers. Building a clientele. Usually people have a tendency to ignore you. They walk by you like you’re a tree. But this is something you have to tolerate and learn how to understand it. But once the people get to know you, they’re good people.
M: It seems like you have a lot of regular customers, do you have any advice on being a successful StreetWise vendor?
J: Yes I do, yes I do. I get to know everybody, and every- body knows me. It’s like a big family around. To be a good vendor, to have a great personality, is to learn how to talk to people. Say good morning and good afternoon, and always keep a smile on your face. People will learn to come to you, to treat you like a person, to treat you like you’re really trying to make something out of yourself. I have went through trials and tribulations. I’ve had my ups and downs. But since I’ve been here, I’ve come a long way. And I’m doing great. People here, like I said, treat me like family.
J: My son. He’s 8 years old. He drives me to get up and go. Every morning he wakes me, and he beats me up sometimes, he says, “Time to get up and go to work! Time to get up and go to work!” He keeps me going. He’s a great kid. [He’s] going into 3rd grade. He loves being around me and we love doing things together. He’s so smart too.
A young woman, Alicia, walks over to greet us when she sees Jimmie. J: Hey baby! This is another of my regulars.
M: Do you have any comments about Jimmie you’d like to share?
ALICIA: I always feel very greeted, like it’s a safe environment. He’s a really happy, joyful guy. He’s always in a good mood, and he’s always greeting. Not just me, everybody. No matter what kind of mood they’re in or if they have a frown on their face, he still talks to everyone. He’s just welcoming to the whole area. You can actually stop and have a conversation with him. I could go on and on about him.
J: See? I know all the customers. I know all the workers here and we speak to each other like family. Sometimes I tease them around a little bit. But me selling StreetWise is a job for me. I do it six days a week from 7-11 in the morning. And it’s done a lot for me. It’s brought me a long way
M: What do you do for fun in your spare time?
J: I play with my son. We get out and we go fishing sometimes. Sometimes we’ll watch movies together, barbeque, play a little ball or something. We do a lot of fun things.
J: In 5 years, I’d like to see myself in my own home. I really would, because my son needs a yard. I’d like to see myself sitting back and relaxing. I wake up some mornings not really feeling like being out, wanting to [take a break], but I have an obligation to my family, and to the company, and to myself. And therefore I have to keep on my toes. But as I stated before, within the next few years, I’m going to have to sit down. I’m trying to enjoy my life. My mom lives in St. Louis and she’s sickly, she’s not able to get out anymore. I try to work hard enough so that I can send her a little savings once in a while, but I haven’t seen my mom in a couple of years. I haven’t been able to get a car yet, so I’m still working towards that. It’s going to be hard, but I’ll get there.
M: If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be?
J: I’m a loving, happy, go-getter.