Tag Archives: from homeless to business

From Homeless to Businessman

Illustration photo

Life writes the most amazing stories. Most of the time, however, there’s no happy ending. People who fall to the fringe of society typically suffer and can’t find the way out of their struggles. It’s alarming to see so many young people searching for food in the rubbish bins of New York. The contrast of poverty and richness is striking…. However, some people manage to overcome their odds, and come back to living normal life. Bob K. belongs to this group, and we would like to thank Caren for submitting this inspirational story about a news stand owner from New York.


Bob couldn’t handle the death of his wife

Bob originally belonged to the working class. Hard labor on construction site was his daily bread. He never refused an invitation for a beer or two from his colleague, but that was it. He’d never drunk excessively. After all he had a young wife, and they were trying for a child.

World turned upside down for Bob on an ordinary Thursday evening. An ambulance stood in front of the house as he was returning home. Marla, his wife, was lying on the floor. She was death–a sudden heart failure. Doctors could do nothing to save her….


Bob started to drink, falling ever lower on the spiral of emotions

Bob couldn’t handle the loss. He started to drink more, and more. Only alcohol helped him to forget. Few times he came late to work, few times he smelled of alcohol. Soon enough they fired him. He didn’t feel like working anymore anyway. He started to drink even more, forgetting to pay his bills. Executors came to take the house. Bob was in debt, without job, without a home. United States are the country of opportunities, but also a country of indifference. If you can’t make a living, nobody gives a dough about your health or whereabouts.

Bob became homeless, and soon enough he hit the rock bottom. Winter arrived and Bob was freezing outside, sharing strange cold places with other homeless. One night he froze so badly that he thought he’d never move his toes again. The next morning, a guy was walking around him carrying a bunch of magazines in hand. Bob remembered seeing the guy in the Autumn, in the park. He stopped him and asked about the magazines. It turned out that a local charity started the project, offering newspapers for homeless people to sell them in the streets. Each interested man got first ten magazines for free, together with a unique identification card. The final price for the magazines was three euro a piece, exactly the same as in the news stand. But homeless people could buy them from the charity for $1.5 (the printing costs), and keep the profit (or invest into buying further magazines to sell).


Bob, the salesman

Bob decided to give it a try. He originally hoped to make juts enough to get himself a bed in one of the refugee stations in the city. A bed and a warm meal for the cold winter evening–that was Bob’s original motivation. He got the first ten magazines and headed into the streets. He approached people, he was shouted at and cursed, but he didn’t give up. After an hour Bob sold his first magazine.

On the next evening, he had already sold all ten of them, and got a bed and meal for the night, still managed to save $21. Bob decided to invest the money into more magazines. He continued roaming the streets, selling to complete strangers. Soon enough he got the skill, and managed to sell more than 20 magazines a day. That made for a healthy profit of $30.

Time passed, Bob stopped drinking, and understood that he really enjoyed selling the magazines. If only he could make enough to rent himself some apartment again, and started living normally.  It was probably a destiny that he walked around a news stand, seeing the guy walking from inside, and placing an ad on the window: “For rent or sale”.

Bob talked to the guy immediately, and they arranged a good deal. He got the news stand, a place where he could not only sell magazines, but also sleep in the night. Little by little, he learned the rules of business, and how to operate such a stand, in terms of suppliers, accounting, and other things. Now, he runs this stand successfully, and manages to make so much money that he actually rented a small apartment. He’s typically busy from morning to evening, but he doesn’t mind that–being busy helps him to not think about Marla anymore…..