Big Ken Carlton caught the 2 train at Freeman Street this morning. He threw on his over-stuffed backpack and quickly loaded a folding table, half-a-dozen large boxes and a plastic tarp before the doors closed.
He rode to West 96th Street and then moved everything across the platform and onto the 1 train.
“You gotta be fast,” Big Ken explained. “The train will leave with half your stuff if you’re too slow.”
Big Ken has never lost anything.
“Fear gives me my speed,” he said. “I’m afraid of not being able to pay the rent and not having anything to eat. Losing any of my merchandise would put me out of business for sure.”
Big Ken’s business is selling T-shirts and hats to people headed for the Statue of Liberty.
“They like everything with the tall lady on it,” Big Ken said. “That’s all I used to sell, but people were always asking me about my Yankees hat. They wanted to know where they could buy one.
“So I started bringing some with me,” he continued. “Now I sell more Yankees stuff than I do Liberty. It’s all about giving the people what they want.”