By Sebastian Sellhorst, Bodo
It’s ten in the morning when Jessica and I meet in Bodo’s vendor café at the Schwanenwall [in central Dortmund]. We plan to go to the industrial area between Dortmund and Bochum, where Jessica sells the paper.
She wants to show me her pitch at a garden centre. After drinking a coffee, we go on our way. Twenty minutes later, we get on the suburban S1 train at Dortmund’s main station.
“Usually, I take the bus from Hörde,” Jessica explains. But today, she goes a different way, so that I can come with her.
“I usually buy the social-ticket each month,” she says. “It has got a lot more expensive during the past years, but at €31.50 it’s still much cheaper than other tickets. If I had to buy a single ticket every time I take the train, I wouldn’t be able to ride this far out of the city. It would just be too expensive.”
We get off the train at Dortmund-Oespel train station and walk for a bit. “I like taking a walk in nature,” says Jessica. “When something has annoyed me, a little walk in fresh air often makes me feel better.”
As we arrive at Blumen Risse, the local garden centre, Jessica walks straight into the manager’s office. “I’ll introduce you to Mr Hoffmann, he is very nice.”
He is indeed, and we take a quick photo together at Jessica’s pitch. “Most of the time, I sell the paper in front of the exit. But when it’s cold, they allow me to come inside.
“I love to be here. The staff are really friendly. Before this pitch I sold the paper at a supermarket on the other side of the road. But I was there only for a few days. Now my pitch is here.
“I like that people know me now. This makes things easier. One time, I was approached and insulted by a group of youths who were hanging out here. But immediately shop assistants came out and helped me.”
But Jessica also compliments her customers: “Most of them know me already and say hello when they see me, even when they don’t buy the paper.
“I sometimes help customers who carry heavy shopping to their cars, stop people who leave stuff on their car roof or watch their dogs while they go shopping. This way, I never get bored.”
We take a break at the bistro that belongs to the garden centre and enjoy waffles and coffee. Jessica is greeted by lots of friends and acquaintances.
“Most of my friends ask for my advice when they buy plants for their balconies or gardens. Of course I love to help them.”
While we have a leisurely walk through the shop, Jessica teaches me the Latin names of the different plants: “Viola wittrockiana, Hedera helix, Salix caprea.” After five minutes, my head is buzzing.
“I used to work in a big market garden for many years so it’s actually quite nice that I can sell bodo here now. But I would still love to work in this field again some time.”
Together, we make our way back to the inner city.
We share a vendor story every Wednesday, explore more of them here.
Translated from German into English by Katrin Wolf.