By Elizabeth Schwartz
Although he stands under the overhang at Powells’ backdoor on NW 11th and Couch, Roger Moore is not totally protected from the weather. “The wind funnels down through here,” he told me. “The rain blows sideways sometimes.”
The street corner is a busy place, but few people stop to buy a paper. “This one’s a week old,” Roger explained. When “it first comes out I sell about 30 an hour.” He looks around at all the people walking past. “Today I’ve sold six papers so far.”
Several other people are competing for the public’s attention. Someone has put up a makeshift stand across Couch Street. The sign on the side of the stand reads, “Shutdown the Bailouts.” During my hour on the corner, there is always at least one person reading the literature and talking about the economy.
“I’ve seen older people stop coming to Powell’s over the past year,” he said. I asked him what he thought the reason was. “They’re budgeting their dollars or they don’t have it,” he replied. He said that most of his customers are between 20 and 40 years old, but he still has a few regulars who are in their 60s.
A young woman approached Roger while we were talking. “I made that guitar player leave,” she told him, referring to a young man who had been playing music nearby. “I told him there’s other corners!” Then she left. Roger smiled. She’s been a regular customer of his for about five years.