Ed Arthurs has finally settled in. Though he now enjoys a fair amount of security and routine, the road to this point was long and not easy. Most days he can be found at Third and Union in the heart of Seattle's financial district, a neighborhood that has had its own share of ups and downs.
Ed grew up in a military family that moved often, from Texas to Georgia to Kansas and everywhere in between. His adult life didn't slow down any, as he worked steadily in a variety of jobs. He sold Kirby vacuums door-to-door, a difficult job that solidified the salesmanship skills. He spent time in telemarketing and at tree maintenance companies in Kansas and Missouri. In 1978, he started working in PR for Circus Vargas, based out of California. He spent the next two years travelling with the circus across the country, ordering supplies and promoting the acts. He fondly recalls Thanksgiving 1978, when he feasted on a catered holiday dinner beneath the big top in Yuma, Ariz.
A friend told Ed about the Northwest, a place with mild summers and clear days with temps in the seventies. Ed recognized his chance to escape the unbearable heat and humidity of his youth and headed for Portland. Eventually he moved to Seattle. He discovered Real Change just two weeks after his arrival.
"I started selling because it was a product," he tells me. "It was perfect for me, without much education, because I've sold stuff all my life." His experience has done him well. At Third and Union, he greets customers with patience and warmth. Several regulars look genuinely happy to see him and his selling partner (his dog Cosby, who has been with him for several months now).
Ed pays for his 300 papers at the start of each month; it helps him keep on track and maintain his routine. Sales have slowed some since the nearby WaMu closed down, but he stays persistent.