From Estonia to the Stonetown

Reimo the Bookman delivers smiles door-to-door

By Stewart Grant

These days, door-to-door sales has to be a very difficult way to make a living. But for Reimo Mägi, also known as Reimo the Bookman, it’s a wonderful experience that is helping him prepare for a successful future.

Reimo knocked on our door a few days ago, and though I was on my way out, I was intrigued by this cheerful young man from faraway Estonia (just south of Finland) who left his business card. As a result, I got in touch with him after the fact, curious to find out more about this fellow who has been going door-to-door in the area selling children’s educational books.

For each of the past five summers, Reimo has traveled North America selling educational books and software on behalf of Southwestern Advantage, a company founded in Nashville in 1855 and who grew during the Civil War by printing and distributing Bibles.    

Before visiting Perth County in 2017, Reimo has previously worked with Southwestern Advantage in California, Georgia, Kentucky, South Dakota, and British Columbia. Thanks to these past experiences, he is entering his final year of his economics degree at University of Tartu (in his home country of Estonia) without having to take on any student debt.

Reimo is one of approximately 600 students from Europe contracted with Southwestern Advantage this summer in North America and gaining valuable cultural, business and life experience at the same time. Reimo explained that he lives with a host family in Palmerston (near Listowel); this is common practice for those like him here on a student work visa, while others find accommodations through Airbnb. His biggest expense here is his vehicle, which he rented at Toronto airport upon arrival in Canada and which he uses to drive around Perth County selling books to families.

I asked Reimo why he chose this profession for his summer job, and his answers came quickly. “I really believe that our books can help students with their education. As well, I’m going to be a father in July and I feel that the experiences that I gain abroad will help me to develop positive character and skills to best prepare for my adult life. Wherever I go and whether people are interested or not in our books, I try to leave everyone in a good mood. I find that if you are nice, then people are nice in return. Canadians in particular are so friendly and I’m having a lot of fun here.”

During our time together, it was evident that Reimo truly cares about making a difference for young people. What really motivates him to work long hours (he starts at 8 am and often works through to 9 pm) are the testimonials where people tell him how the educational tools have made a positive impact. Even as we wrapped up our visit, he wanted to share some advice for youngsters who might be reading this article: “Work hard kids, and it will pay off!”

To learn more about the educational books sold by Reimo, visit www.southwesternadvantage.com or visit his Facebook page at www.fb.com/reimobookman.

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