INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 5, 2016) - You may have seen him, Jim “the broom guy” Richter has been selling his brooms on the north side for 60 years, but what he’s offering is way more than just a broom.
“I admire you so much,” said one customer to Richter.
“Well Glenda it’s people like you that keep me going,” he said.
Like any good salesman, Richter knows almost all his customers by name. Because for 60 years, “I’ve been around, it seems like a lifetime,” said Richter.
Six days a week, six hours a day, Richter has been “the broom guy.”
You may not know it from the way he interacts with his customers, but Richter is blind. At 78 years old, selling brooms has been his life’s work.
He learned how to make brooms at the Indianapolis School for the Blind.
“When I got out of school I went around to several different businesses applying for a job and the bottom line was basically, you’re a nice guy, we’d like to help you but… and I thought well as long as I keep getting these buts I’m just going to have to do something I know how to do that I can make a little money at and the rest is history,” he said.
He took his skills to the streets and sold his craft at multiple locations throughout Indy’s north side neighborhoods.
In February, Jim was kicked out of a long time location at the Nora post office, told he was no longer allowed to sell on the property.
A woman claiming to be the post master, Richter said, approached him, telling him the post office had received numerous complaints about Richter selling there.
“I was worried, yes because that was probably 80 percent of my business,” he said.
Since then, the community that has grown up with the broom guy has rallied behind him.
“Hey I’m sorry about how they treated you at the post office,” said one customer.
What Jim would normally sell in a day, he now makes in a couple of hours. Governor Pence even stopped by Monday to buy a broom.
“I love Mr. Richter; we’ve bought all of our brooms from him,” said Ramona Cowser.
“I’m a people person; a big portion of my life is mingling with other people,” said Richter.
He doesn’t make a lot of money doing this.
“Well if it was a matter of making money, I would’ve retired about 50 years ago,” he said.
For someone without his sense of sight, he sees life clearer than most others. This man with brooms is really selling smiles.
“I just love to talk to people and try to leave them feeling better when they leave when they were when they first came up to me,” he said.
If you want to buy a broom from the broom guy, he sells every day except Monday.
He no longer sells at the NORA post office, but sells at the BP at 71st and College Avenue, 62nd Street and Keystone Avenue, or outside the former auto parts store near 82nd Street in Castleton.