Vendor Michael reps the Crimson Tide in Vol Country.
Michael Farley has been with The Contributor since day one, he says, when founder Tom Wills noticed him during an event at Downtown Presbyterian Church and urged him to become a vendor for the new paper.
At age 20 and only a couple of years after moving to Nashville, Michael was one of, if not THE youngest vendor. Ten years later, he looks a little older and is known for his enthusiasm, his broad smile, and for the almost perpetual baseball cap he wears representing his favorite sports team: The University of Alabama.
The latter is what earned him the nickname he’s called almost as much as his given name: “Bama.”
A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Michael rarely missed a Tide game while growing up. His father owned a gas station near the stadium, and Michael says Coca-Cola representatives usually gave his dad a pair of tickets to each home game.
“We’d get through parking (visitor’s) cars at the station, then we’d head to the game,” Michael says. “When I was a kid, I loved to see us beat the University of Southern California.”
These days, he’s not as particular — “I love a good game,” he says, noting he feels no discomfort walking the downtown streets in his crimson cap.
As one of The Contributor’s original crew, he’s got good stories about building his business and tips for success.
“The first day I sold, I worked six hours and made three dollars,” he says. “I thought, ‘man, I don’t know if this is going to work.’ But the next day I moved to (the intersection of) Eastland Avenue and Gallatin Road in East Nashville, and I made $250."
He soon moved a couple of blocks down Eastland to 14th Street, and worked the spot for eight years. Although he now vends The Contributor in Franklin (“they love The Contributor there,” he says) he still drops by the old neighborhood in East Nashville to visit regulars.
“I feel loved there,” says Michael. “That’s my family over there. I watched a bunch of kids grow up working there.”
Although he has a second job working in landscaping and groundskeeping, he credits The Contributor for helping him get out of homelessness and providing a home for he, his wife, and his three stepchildren.