Revision Street: Andres Flores, 48
Andres, as you already know, has a daughter Michelle, and a wife Maria—nickname: Chiki. He also has a son, named Andy. A couple years ago, he started an Italian restaurant.
How long have you lived in Chicago, Andres?
I’ve been in and out because I used to go to Mexico every year, but about the last 25 years.
Since I came to America, I’ve done all kinds of crazy things. I used to sell toys. I used to sell men’s clothes. But I find out the men never buy nothing. Usually it’s the woman that buy stuff for the men. The men would never shop for himself, never. Whatever he can grab, he put it on. Very few men buy something for themselves. I found out that men don’t buy anything, so I started buying leather jackets. I did that for a while, working selling leather jackets. Then I sold pots and pans, and that I give up.
I never got rich. I was still poor, you know what I mean? Then we got into, ah… selling gold. I talked to somebody jewelry people, you know: what if I sell jewelry, what kind of money will you give me? So they give me thirty percent. So with friends and family, I sell gold. That doesn’t get me any money, so I started selling boots. Cowboy boots. I was thinking, maybe these men, one day they’re gonna buy boots, you know? Or belts. Or—still nothing. So I found out the ladies buy a lot, so I go to Los Angeles and look around the shops, all the shops, the sweatshops, and looked for ladies clothes. That was one of the best businesses I did, selling ladies clothes.
They buy anything. A woman buy anything. I mean, you just put it on something, on a stick, and they buy it. They don’t get what it is, or how it looks, they just buy it. Whatever you want to sell them. If you want to sell something, talk to the lady. Don’t talk to the man. If the ladies say, OK—that’s it, you got a deal, you done…
Because that was taking too many Saturdays and Sundays out of my life, I decided stop doing all that. I was still poor. This wasn’t getting me any richer, so I left it.
Then I had the opportunity to sell junk. So I bought a truck. That’s one of the best businesses there is, ‘cause you don’t pay for nothing and you make a lot of money. Everything is free—man the stuff, especially on Christmas! It’s so cruel to see. A lot of people that receive gifts from somebody and the next day throw them in the garbage. A lot of coffee makers, rice cookers, little, little ovens. A lot of ties. People are nice because they do not throw it in the garbage, they leave it on top of the garbage so you can see it’s still brand new in the box. I found a little thing to make pasta, a little beautiful machine, brand new in the box . . .
One guy, he threw away this thing for boxing, like a—the one that you hit? I loved that thing. It was almost new, so I thought I could give it to my son. I picked it up and I took it ‘cause it wasn’t metal, so I was gonna give it to my son. And then that thing start stinking. I don’t know what it was, and it stunk and it stunk. So we put it outside, said, Oh let’s throw it out. Then some blood came out.
Maybe somebody put one of his animals inside and they stuffed it with paper. Cruel people. That was the cruelest thing I ever seen, that they did that to an animal. I called the police ‘cause I didn’t know what it was. Maybe it was a body or something inside that thing. So when the police came in, they opened it and said they stuck an animal in there and covered it with newspaper so the animal can’t get out. That was bad . . .
You meet a lot of different people, especially a lot of old people. They give away a lot of junk and when they die, their families give you everything. A lot of tools. I found a lot of old tools, from the 1920s. I still have a lot of junk. I find a lot of chairs, tables. When I find something that was good I saved it and when somebody needed a table, I just give it to them. I have a lot of VCRS, televisions, I still have about three in the garage. When somebody come in and doesn’t have nothing, I just give them one. Why not? Why they gotta go buy one? When they find a job, they can get ahead, so I give them something.
That’s one of the best jobs. You make good money. One day I made about 800 dollars in one day. Aluminum is very expensive. Copper is about three-something a pop, and sometimes it goes up and down. If there is a war going on, then they need a lot of metal.