Spending a day with Carterville's 'Trader' Tom Brown

Spending a day with Carterville's 'Trader' Tom Brown

CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - From bicycles to wagons and trinkets, Carterville, Illinois native Tom Brown spends all his free time trading around town.

The 66 year old walks everywhere and can often be found walking back and forth up the small southern Illinois city's main street.

His given name is Tom Brown but almost everyone in Carterville know him as "Trader Tom."

"I trade radios, TVs, tape players, radios, anything I can get I trade it," Brown said.

Brown has special needs and spends most of his day working at an adult day center.

"This is my hometown," Brown said. "Yup, this is my hometown."

Hailey Barber, who works at city hall, called Brown a "character."

Barber said he'll often come to visit her and bring gifts.

"He comes in here, he tries to trade, he tries to give, he proposes to me all the time," Barber said. "We're good friends."

Khrissy Hollister, who also works with the city, said the town has always banded together to help Brown.

In 2005, Brown and his family were living in a dilapidated home. The people of Carterville came together and raised more than $10,000 to buy a new home for his family.

"He just comes in and visits and he's always got something to trade, he's always positive, he's always on the move," Hollister said.

Local barber Rich Stevenson cuts Brown's hair for free, the Country Cupboard often feeds him and folks around town often trade and give Brown cash.

"Every now and then he'll come in and have something to sell like a knife or a tape player or a radio and we'll buy it from him for a buck," Stevenson said.

If you ever make it to town, make sure to say hello if Trader Tom doesn't first. He'll be the first to say not everyone gets him. But those who do, have made a friend they wouldn't trade for anything.

"They just don't understand my ways. They just don't understand me. They get … Every once in a while. I say well, I could tell them either shape up or shape out," Brown said.

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