Pedestrians strolling down Broadway and Chapel streets have more than the usual number of shopping options during the summer because the regular downtown haunts are supplemented by street vendors. The News caught up with one such vendor, David Crombie, who along with his wife Paula, says he sells jewelry not just as a second job, but also as a way of connecting with a variety of people — on the streets of New Haven and around the world.
QWhen did you start selling jewelry? Is that all you do?
AMy wife Paula and I began selling jewelry shortly after we moved to Connecticut in 1993. Before that, I was a reporter for 23 years at the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. We both have full-time jobs: I teach in the West Haven public school system, and my wife works at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
QIf you both have careers, why bother with the hassle of setting up, selling and packing up your products each week?
AThis is our idea of a hobby. We both love meeting people.
QWhat distinguishes your merchandise from that which you can find in any jewelry store?
AMuch of what you see here is from Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Peru and Brazil. My wife picks them out; sometimes she designs pieces. Most of what we sell is made from Baltic Amber; Paula is fascinated by it. We don’t just pick these pieces out of a catalog. We travel around the world looking for jewelry.
QDo you ever have any issues with shoplifting? Your merchandise is out in public, after all. How does New Haven compare to other areas?
AOccasionally. Everywhere you go, there are people with no principles. New Haven is no worse than anywhere else. Wherever you go you just keep an eye out for it.
QWhy do you come to New Haven to sell?
AWe love New Haven. It is so full of activity and so diverse. Being here, meeting students, parents and locals is what makes it fun.
QHow does this job compare to teaching and reporting?
AIt’s very similar, actually. When I was a reporter I was interviewing people, listening to their life stories. Teaching is fairly similar. I teach English as a second language to kids in elementary school; they just open up to you. Here I try not to just sell something, I try to talk to people, get to know them. It is a personal experience, and that is why I love it.