Our Vendors 

David A. Tillman

Tue, May 26, 2015

DavidATillmanWhere did you grow up?
I grew up, off and on, in Rogers Park. But I also spent time in Logan Square and in the DuPage County Suburbs.
What brought you to StreetWise?
I was very desperate for employment, and I came here. I have been here off and on since 2008. I just didn’t want to beg anymore. This is the only way I know of now that I can work. StreetWise is a job. I am not saying it is an excuse, but I have mental illness which keeps me from working.
Where do you sell StreetWise?
I am at Clark & Howard. I am there every afternoon. I have been there since October of 2014.
Do you have any strategies for selling the magazine?
My strategy is to not hound a person. StreetWise has been around since 1992, and there are vendors in every neighborhood, so I think many Chicagoans know what it is about. They should know that I am a person who is trying to make it, and that is what makes them want to buy the magazine, to support me. They want to encourage positive change. Some of the vendors say “StreetWise, help the homeless,” which I believe gives a bad stigma to all of us. When I first came to StreetWise, I didn’t know you didn’t have to be homeless to sell it. A lot of people don’t know that, unless they really talk to a vendor.
Please tell me something about Rogers Park that you wouldn’t know if you were not a vendor.
Morse Street has never looked the way it does now. There used to be a Jewel, a Baskin Robbins and a Record Exchange. And there used to be a big, old bakery that was really nice. The buildings looked totally different than they do now.
What do you like most about Chicago?
What I like most is Chicago’s history. Chicago in 2015 has really gone down the tubes. I think Mayor Emanuel has done a horrible job as a leader. He is supposed to be representing us. I have to say it is not all his fault. I don’t mean any personal disrespect, but what the mayor did with the O’Hare expansion just ruined all of Bensenville. They tore down the entire neighborhood.
Is there anything you have learned working at StreetWise?
I have learned to budget my finances.
Are there any challenges you have had to overcome?
Alcoholism. I haven’t overcome it, and I never will, but I do have three years under my belt.
What are your future goals?
I would like to own an entertainment conglomerate. I want a record label, films and radio.
Is there anything you like to do for fun?
Stand-up comedy. I go to Heartland Cafe, and on Wednesdays they have “In One Ear” open mic night, from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m., with sign-up at 9 p.m. I go every Wednesday night. I also enjoy making home movies.
Is there anything else you would like to tell your readers?
I would like to say that just because a person sells StreetWise, it doesn’t mean that a person is homeless. And just because a person is homeless, it doesn’t mean they have a homeless mentality. I would also like to say thank you to all of my customers, past present and future.

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