Blind World Magazine

Vision-impaired snack operator in business for 30 years.

November 06, 2005., Texas.

Kay Stephens has made her way in the world quite well, thank you.

She started the Tall City Snack Shoppe 30 years ago in the lobby of the downtown Post Office on Wall Street.

Blind from measles since age 5, Stephens said, she couldn't get a job anywhere else and started her own business. It's sponsored by the Business Enterprises of Texas, a program within the Division for Blind Services under the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. The department picked the location for her business.

"I knew I wanted to stay here in Midland," she said.

She gets some help from her parents but mostly tends to everything herself. Vendors stock her shelves and she tells them where to put everything. "After they leave, I learn where they (the items) are," Stephens said.

The stand is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and sells a little bit of everything -- greeting cards, combs, aspirin, sandwiches, throat lozenges, chimichangas, chips, candy, instant soup and soda.

"I'm always looking for new products. Every now and then I'll find something I don't carry and I'll start carrying it and see how it goes," she said.

She figures out change by touch and has a machine to read paper money.

"The only thing that gives me a real problem is the SBs, the Susan B (coins). There's not enough difference between them and a quarter," she said, adding she has to measure a quarter against the coin dollar.

A Lee High School graduate who has taken some courses at Midland College, she has undergone training at other schools as well.

She enjoys her job most of the time, especially visiting with people. "I can't imagine working in another place," she said. "These people that work around here are just delightful."

The federal court security officers who work outside her door said they keep an eye on Stephens to make sure she's all right.

"She's great. She's at work every day," said Ronnie Benton, court security officer. "She comes in here and visits with us every day. We have a great time. She's just a great little lady."

"She's got a super sense of humor, too," fellow court security officer Woody Jackson said.

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