Our Vendors 

Linda Carretero

Mon, Jul 13, 2015

Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the North West Side of Chicago, the North Center neighborhood. I used to be neighbors with O’Donovan’s on Hoyne & Irving.

Where do you sell StreetWise?
I am at the Walgreens at 4040 N. Cicero, which is at Belle Plaine and Cicero, in the 6 Corners neighborhood. I also sell at Randolph and Michigan, at 151 N. Michigan. I don’t know how long I will stay there though. I have been selling StreetWise in the afternoons, after I get out of work. The people over there have always been very supportive, but I don’t end up making much money like I used to when I worked in the mornings. People want to go home, they don’t want to talk to me! I used to be out there at 7 until 9:30 a.m., then I would come here to work. I used to be the executive assistant at StreetWise. Now I have a full time job at a union owned medical clinic with full benefits for me and my family. It is pretty awesome. I had taken a year off of StreetWise, and I just came back last October. That is when I started selling on the North Side.

What brought you to StreetWise?
When I was 16, I was in high school and I was working part-time. At 18, I was let go of my job. I was almost 19 and I had made a promise when my daughter was born that I would maintain employment. I knew I had to do something, so I came in, and I have been here ever since! 11 years now! I love the fact that you feel good helping people while you are here, you can contribute to people that were in your situation when you first walked in. I still volunteer here on Mondays and I feel good after it. I go to my job and I don’t always feel appreciated. Here I feel good. It’s the environment of StreetWise. It is just so positive, and it carries with you when you go.

Do you have any strategies for selling the magazine?
I like to be honest about who I am. I want people to understand that what they are doing is helping me. I have goals of buying a car and getting a real estate license. I want to do it. It is a passion of mine. Me being out there with my customers is really going to help me move on, because I already have an associates degree in real estate. In the meantime I need to get to that point. My aunt asked me why I tell my customers that I have a job. She insisted that no one would help me if they knew that. I said if they don’t want to support me, I would like them to support someone else. The relationship between customers and vendors happens because the customers believe in what the vendors are doing. Customers see that we are trying to make our lives better, and that is what I am doing. There is a vendor out there for everybody. I want people to understand that there is no typical vendor. We all have different reasons why we are here. I think the more you talk to the vendor, you will find how much you have in common.

Tell me something about 6 Corners that you wouldn’t know if you were not a vendor.
I like how culturally diverse it is. You have many Hispanic and Polish people, many immigrants. But, it is really a calm and quiet neighborhood, with really nice people. Even the panhandlers who are out there drunk are nice! There is a sense of community, and it is not a competition, so I feel like they have my back. It’s just so positive.

What do you like most about Chicago?
In general I love that no matter what you like, what kind of food you have a taste for, what kind of culture you want to be part of, there is a neighborhood for you! People sometimes say it is segregated, but I think people go where they feel at home. I don’t think a lot of cities offer such diversity.

What do you like to do for fun?
My husband and I love video gaming. I also love heavy metal and rock and roll! Whenever I am stressed or upset, I listen to music to brighten my mood. I also love concerts.

Are there any other future goals besides getting the car and your real estate license?
It could change, because I can change my mind like I change my clothes! I already have 2 associate’s degrees, and I almost have a third. I have 4 classes left to finish my associate’s in accounting. I would like to go back to finish that. I would also like to start investing, with the hope that I could retire early. I was thinking of emigrating to Canada. A friend of mine moved up there and he raves about it. My daughter is 14, and lives in Wisconsin. That is why I want to get the car and my license. Every time she wants to visit, I have to wire my ex-husband money, and who wants to do that! She has had some medical issues, and I want to be a bigger part of her life. I tried having her live here, but she didn’t like my rules. Her dad lets her do whatever. I want to spend more time with her, but I don’t have much free time now. Sometimes we need to stop and take a break, but at the same time, I need to solve my problems and pay my bills. I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive!


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