Grinding Out a Living with a Coffee Cart

Rusinow at her coffee stand. Credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR.

For the last 11 years, Rusinow was the proprietor of a gallery in Healdsburg, Calif., called Options. Now she runs her own coffee stand in Portland, Ore. Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ketzel Levine, NPR

It's an oft-told tale: the exodus from California to the Pacific Northwest. For years, people have been selling their houses in often extremely inflated markets and moving north for a more affordable life.

Terry Rusinow, 58, followed this well-trod path, selling her home and craft gallery in Healdsburg, Calif., in favor of a new life in Portland. Despite her varied work experience — in retail, restaurants, galleries and even a long stint with a coffee company — she could not find a job.

Motivated by necessity, Rusinow conceived the idea of a mobile espresso cart in one of Portland's parks. She convinced local authorities to allow her Duck, Duck, Brew coffee cart into the city's Laurelhurst Park. Now she does business between the duck pond and off-leash dog area.

But foot traffic through the park is slow. And the work turns out to be physically demanding. Rusinow must set up and take down the 1,600-pound cart every day.

Two weeks into the venture, she isn't convinced she's made the right decision. NPR's Ketzel Levine will be checking back with Rusinow over the next few weeks to see how her reinvented life is turning out.

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