Hot Weather Keeps Street Vendors Busy Selling Water

CHICAGO (CBS) — One way people are keeping a bit cooler on the West Side today is buying cold water from street vendors.

You might think it would be a good opportunity for a street vendor to raise his prices on bottled water, with the temperature expected to hit triple digits, but WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports at least one vendor hasn’t changed his prices in five years.

Howard, who sells water at the corner of Harrison Street and Kilbourn Avenue, has three coolers full of water and ice, and – for 10 hours a day – he sells the bottles for 50 cents each, the same price as when he started five summers ago.

“I’m not making a whole lot of profit. The other guys are selling it for a dollar. It’s always been a dollar for a bottle of water. This has always been 50 cents. This is the fifth summer for 50 cents.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

What did he think when he heard how hot it was going to get today? Howard said he thought, “They need me.”

Rick Sanchez was one of his customers today, and said Howard picked a good spot to sell water.

“Any spot is a good spot. It’s very hot,” he said.

Some motorists even do U-turns to get to Howard’s side of the street, especially on a day as hot as today.

He said his goal is simple: “just to keep people cool.”

Howard stands under the only tree on the corner to stay as cool as he can.

“I got dehydrated back in 2010. I was on the opposite side of the street, no shade, and I was in the hospital for three days,” he said.

Howard said it’s important to drink water, put electrolytes back in your system, and have salt. He doesn’t use salt pills, though, he just eats salty snacks.

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