#VendorWeek 2017

By: Staff February 13, 2017
LUCAS
The Big Issue
Australia

 

If Lukas is late for work, there’s no boss standing at the door tapping her watch. There’s no timesheet or punch card. That’s because Lukas doesn’t work in an office. He works on the streets of Melbourne. Lukas is his own boss. He is a Big Issue vendor.

Vendors of The Big Issue spend their own money buying copies of the magazine for A$3.50, then selling them on the street for $7. How much, how often and just how they sell is up to them.

Lukas is a pretty quiet vendor – he doesn’t goof around or joke like some people do. He stands on his spot and smiles gently, and when a customer comes by he engages them in thoughtful conversation. When you ask him how a new edition is going, he is unfailingly positive. But being your own boss is not always easy.

“You’ve got no-one watching over your shoulder, you might take it easy some days, and there is no-one to pressure you,” he says. “I usually find that I have that drive every day, but there’s always that one day, like everyone else, you don’t want to get out of bed. But I always end up pushing myself and doing it.”

He also talks about the demands of running his own business, like saving up to ensure he has enough stock for busy periods. “I am definitely my own boss. I learned that pretty quick over Christmas, having to manage when it is busy. Not only money, but stock and making sure that you have it available for your customers.”

It’s International Vendor Week, and this year we are drawing attention to the tenacity, indefatigable spirit and business acumen of the people who go out and sell street papers around the world – people like Lukas, who has been selling the The Big Issue Austrailia for almost a year. It’s a week that is celebrated around the world by the International Network of Street Papers and the tens of thousands of people who work for street papers globally. For so many of those people, this is more than just a job.

“I was homeless for seven or eight months, I was on the street. Selling The Big Issue helped me out of that. It’s kept me on the right track,” says Lukas. “I work every day, seven days. I like it. If I stayed at home, I’d just go crazy,” he says. “I love coming into the city. Probably I come out more for the people, but also Melbourne itself – it’s an awesome place to be every day.”

 

RUSSELL
StreetWise Magazine
Chicago, IL USA

 

Location Clark & Lake.

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

That’s a good one. I learned to save money, stay organized and take care of my bills. Back in the day I didn’t do that, I would just spend, spend, spend…week to week, check to check. Now I put money away every day to save for a rainy day.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?

This cold weather! It gives you nightmares!

 

What are your hopes for the future?

I want to find a full-time job. I don’t think I will be able to sell StreetWise too much longer because I do worry that at my age there isn’t too many jobs to find!

 

What is special about your country?

It’s the land of the free! Some other countries have no freedom. I also feel safe and secure. I have no problems right now. Even the president, it’s okay, I’ll give him a chance. Everybody deserves a chance, right? I don’t get into politics, but they put him in there, and we will find out.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

I would get all of the homeless people together, buy vacant lots and build shelters, so none would be homeless anymore. I would donate my own money, and make homelessness over with! I have a dream I will do that one day. We could have computers, healthcare, entertainment, all right there to keep people off the street. I hate seeing people on the street. It’s sad.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

It changed a lot! I don’t have time to be out on the street messing around. I get up in the morning at 5 a.m., and I am at my location at 6.30 a.m. It made me more responsible and my life has more structure. When I was younger, I got out of the Marine Corps and I had all of this money. I had no idea how to save money, and I just went right through it. I feel a lot better now.

 

JOHN
StreetWise Magazine
Chicago, IL USA

 

Location W. Adams & S. Franklin Streets, near the Willis Tower

(aka Sears Tower)

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

Becoming a Field Supervisor for StreetWise. That way I can encourage the other vendors who may be struggling, and help them to see what it takes to improve their sales.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Selling in the cold weather and selling in such a busy area. It's harder to make connections with customers.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

I would like to get as many magazine sales as I can. I want to be realistic with my goals this year, unlike years past. I wanted to do more than I could accomplish.

 

What is special about living in the US?

We have our own opinions that we can express, and we can debate them with others.

 

If you were boss of the world for a day, what would you do?

I would limit the government, limit taxes, make our military stronger, and limit the laws that inhibit businesses. I believe the more flexibility people have in their businesses, the more they would be able to give back to the lower class and less fortunate.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

It has given me some notoriety, like a local celebrity. Also, it has exposed me to all types of people...good, bad, and everything in between.

 

MICHALIS
Shedia Magazine
Greece

Location Athens.

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

The birth of my children.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Managing to move out of the homeless shelter and into my own home.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

I simply live and enjoy each day as if it is my last.

 

What is special about your country?

It is the cradle of democracy. Teaching history and spreading democracy to the whole world, thousands of years ago.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

I would feed all the hungry people in the world and give shelter, a home to all homeless people.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

It saved my life. I stopped thinking about committing suicide. The money saved me and the greatest achievement is that I was saved psychologically. Because of the magazine, I met amazing people – publishers and vendors – from other street papers from around the world. When I sell the paper, people stop and say “kali mera” (good morning) to me. I feel truly proud.

 

FAY
The Big Issue
Australia

 

Location Chippendale, Sydney.

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

I guess getting through my illness and trying to stay well has been my biggest achievement. I suffer from anxiety, depression and a few other things.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope to lead a better life that is more fulfilled, and to sell more magazines; to continue surviving in this world without too much difficulty.

 

What is special about your country?

There are many things that make Australia a special country: its freedom, its expanse, its beauty. I think it is also the way that it embraces all nations and that we have freedom here to more or less live our lives in peace.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

If I was the boss of the world for one day I think that I’d make sure everybody was taken care of and build more hospitals. I used to be a trained nurse and I think people need to be taken care of in hospitals, and also before they get to hospital. If people are being taken care of they mightn’t actually end up in hospital.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

It’s made me happier, made me feel more fulfilled and given me something to do. It’s also helped me meet a lot of interesting people, too.

I’ve found The Big Issue wonderful to work with because the team is so wonderful to me. I’ve been lucky enough to take part in events, like seeing Jimmy Barnes at the Opera House. People have bent over backwards for me and I really appreciate it, thank you very much.

 

VINCE
StreetWise Magazine
Chicago, IL USA

 

Location: N. Michigan Ave & E. Randolph St. (The Chicago Cultural Center / Millennium Park Metra Commuter Train Station)

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

Having my three children. Victor, 25, Marcus and Miracle, 21 and 13.

 

What is your biggest challenge?

Taking care of those children!

 

What are your hopes for the future?

Taking better care of my children. Getting a place of my own and moving on and having a better life.

 

What is special about the US?

There are opportunities. A person can, with the proper motivation and proper knowledge, go from nothing to something. There are obstacles, but still it is possible. The possibility is very good and that, along with freedom, is the best thing about living in the US.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

Mmmmm… Well, no war, no fighting. Peace between all men, women, and children. Then we would work on how we can keep it going from that day on. Peace.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

It kept me off the streets. It has changed my outlook in life. I realized that I can struggle, and I can fight my way out of poverty, with the proper will, attitude, and resources. I can break the back of poverty with a little force.

 

STEVE
The Big Issue
UK

Location Hackney, East London.

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

Becoming a dad. I’ve got four kids – two sons and two daughters – and two step-kids. They’re my world. I’d do anything for them. I also became a granddad for the first time three months back, and again six weeks ago. What a joy.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve had my tough times, but sleeping rough for six months at Euston Station after my relationship broke down was horrible. Just me, my dog and a sleeping bag out in the cold. I never want to do that again.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

All I want is to see my kids grow up happy and do well for themselves. I’ve got my own mini-business with The Big Issue and that keeps me going. If I can work, run my own micro-business and see my kids happy, I’m delighted.

 

What is special about your country?

London is the greatest city in the world. I’ve lived all over the country – a year in Liverpool, a year in Wales – and I always pined for London. I mean, I love being British, they were great places and filled with lovely people, but there is this draw to London. I’m proud to be London born and bred, proud to be British.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

The first thing I’d do is take money we waste elsewhere and do everything I could to end child poverty. The kids shouldn’t have to suffer. That’s not right.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

The Big Issue keeps the lights on in more ways than one. I’m a builder and engineer by trade but suffer from crippling arthritis and I’ve struggled to get work because of that. The Big Issue has been there for me when I need it, always, and I’ll always be grateful for that. It gives me structure, and it’s got me back on my feet.

 

LUO CHIN BIAN
The Big Issue
Taiwan

Location Taipei, ZhongXiao XinSheng MRT Station.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?

There are no challenges. I always find a solution to overcome it. There are many people coming to me, but some will report my selling to the police as an illegal behavior. But most of all, people interacting with me are kind.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes... Everything’s going to be okay. I will try my best.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

(laughs) That’s not possible. But I just want to go back to Kinmen Island, go back to do some farm work.

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

My salary has become better. Since I have a job, my temper has also become calm. Back in the day, I was very irritable.

 

WESLEY
Hus Forbi Magazine
Denmark

 

Location Copenhagen. The Little Mermaid statue has been here since 1913. She is the mermaid known from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale (and the Disney film).

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

I have saved two people’s lives. An old man fell to the ground in front of me and injured the back of his head. I called an ambulance. A friend of mine wanted to drown himself in the winter. He walked over the ice and went into the water. I went out there and carried him back in. It was freezing cold and he was a heavy guy.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Fighting the system. The social system seems like one big obstacle to me. It works against me although it is supposed to help.

 

What is special about your country?

We are so privileged that we have a welfare system in Denmark. And the country is so small that you can drive from head to toe in less than six hours. There is no excuse for not visiting your grandma.

 

If you were boss of the world for one day, what would you do?

Get heads of states and religious leaders to sign a contract that nobody should go to sleep hungry. And written in small print on the bottom of the contract: I would like a few more days to take care of the rest!

 

How has selling the magazine changed your life?

It has provided me with a source of income when there has been nothing else to do to get food and things. And it has given me a lot of fun experiences and good friendships.