These earnings are low, but her options are few. Now approaching her 59th birthday, Barbara remarked ruefully,“Who’s going to hire me? It is hard out here.”
Barbara also used to sell bootleg DVDs. She would purchase the original copy for just 50 cents from a vendor selling movies out of his truck, and then make duplicates that would be sold for $2. But with the expansion of streaming services, new opportunities had to be found. She tried reselling hand towels that were purchased in bulk from an outlet on the Near South Side. Buying six towels for $5 and reselling one for $2.50 would turn a profit of $1.67 for each towel sold. But the volume of sales simply was too low.
For the last two years she has been making bulk purchases of a variety of candies, along with plastic bags for individual sales. She purchases the candy at a suburban mall, as well as from some specialty stores onChicago's West Side. She buys the plastic bags from a store on State Street. The bulk candies are then mixed, 10 pieces in each bag, and sold for $1. Barbara sells her candy in several large buildings where white-collar workers form her custom-er base. “They call me the Candy Lady,”she explains, and although “you have to be discreet,” business is good. She sells candy all day, three or four days a week.
On a good day she clears $80, while on a bad day she earns just $30. On aver-age she can expect to take in $40 to $50 per day. With weekly product costs of $70, her first two days of sales can cover those costs plus $10 to $30 in income. Her third day of sales then could be expected to generate an additional $30 to$50 in income, yielding weekly earnings of between $40 and $80, or more if a fourth day is worked in a week.