Debbie DeBusk knows how to sell the news. Even before she started selling Real Change in 2008, she was hawking The Seattle Daily Times and the Post-Intelligencer in downtown Seattle. Selling Real Change is different -- she doesn't need an assigned location or a schedule -- but she adjusted quickly. She now sells regularly in front of the Magnolia Post Office, a spot she's been testing out for the past three months or so. And for now, she's happy to be there.
"The extra money does help," she tells me. "And the people really are good."
Debbie was born and raised in Seattle. She has spent her whole life here and doesn't see herself leaving anytime soon. She's watched this city transform, along with her family. When she was 12 her father passed away; Debbie and her mother and her five siblings were forced to abandon their West Seattle home and relocate to the Admiral District. After graduating high school, Debbie went to work making parts for Boeing and other large, industrial companies. Today, she sells Real Change and the Sunday Seattle Times and lives in permanent housing with her husband of 30 years.
Over the last several years, while selling news stories on the streets of Seattle, Debbie has seen a lot. She loves to tell all about the people she meets, the dogs she sees, and the strange scenes that sometimes get acted out before her while she works.
She loves observing the characters in her community, even when sales are slow.
"It's hard sometimes when I say 'Good morning' and they don't even look at me," she tells me. "But a lot of people just don't know about Real Change. They come around eventually."
That patience is what has made Debbie so successful in her paper sales. "Always polite and never pushy" is her mantra, and she takes it seriously.
Talking about interactions with her customers, she says, "We both say 'Hello' and we both say 'Thank you.' It's always easy with them, and that's a good thing."