Dan Knight sells his magazines near Walton and State or Wabash and Chicago.
How did you get involved with StreetWise?
I think I saw somebody selling StreetWise, and they told me to come on a certain day and I could take the orientation. And the rest is history … All my life I’ve been a salesman. I’ve sold different things. My mother gave me a bag of peanuts when I was 5 years old. She said, “Boy, what do you think I am? A money tree? You shake it and money falls off? No. Here, boy, take these peanuts and go get your mama some money. She instilled in me that you can do something for yourself in sales.
How long have you been here?
This is my second time coming back. First time I had gone through training, and then … I kind of fell off through things happening in my life that kind of threw me off track. The second time I came back, this guy running the orientation inspired me. This time, he talked about the fact that this is a business … He was telling me that you can’t be a business guy with low energy and low self-esteem. You got to be upbeat about what you’re doing, have a little enthusiasm. It resonated with me. I felt like, “I can do this.” I have been upbeat, and it’s been positive.
How do your customers perceive you?
A lot of people walk up to me and say, “You’re the sharpest StreetWise guy I ever saw.” I wear a suit and tie because I’m trying to project a professional image. People walk up to me and say, “Here, I’m going to give you this money because you’re looking so sharp.” This is a profession. I’m in the magazine business, and I want to project that.
What does it mean to you to be a part of StreetWise?
One of the greatest things that I like about StreetWise is the fact that it’s like a family. Everybody here tries to help you and is interested in you, building you … StreetWise is the magazine that puts you to work. I got this slogan — I try to make [my customers] laugh — it’s got you working and working and working and working. And in addition to working, this is our business that we’re building, and it gives us the opportunity to develop.
Tell me about a challenge you have faced.
Back in 2006, my feet swelled up on me, my ankles, and I couldn’t go to the doctor in Wisconsin because I think you have to pay out of pocket. I came back here to John Stroger and tried to get medical attention, then went back and lost my job because I had to take time off … I had to come back [to Chicago]. I was working for the South Street Journal newspaper as a freelance investigative reporter, but I wasn’t making that much … I went back into school, [but] I needed something to support my income. My brother was putting me up for awhile, and I would dso odd jobs for him. He ended up losing all of his buildings, so I wound up being one of the homeless.
What are your future goals?
I’m very close to getting my bachelor’s at Chicago State. I’m a media and communications major. I’m also an author. So far I’ve written two books. My goal is to become a best seller. I want to go around and do my book signings and literacy camps because there’s high illiteracy in our community.