The #VendorWeek Big Sell is right at the heart of INSP’s #VendorWeek celebrations. 2015 saw street papers in the UK in Australia, America, Denmark and Switzerland hosting guest vendor events.
In the UK, guest vendors sold The Big Issue and The Big Issue in the North for an hour in a sponsored challenge to raise money for INSP’s work, increase sales for the magazines and boost vendor morale.
“It’s been challenging. Sometimes I’ve felt invisible. That must be difficult for people doing it every day, trying to make a living out of it. I think INSP are very good at what they are doing, not just in Scotland but internationally.”
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the vendors. What they do takes quite a lot. I’ve only done it for an hour and I feel pretty tired. I think doing it all day every day must be an awful hard shift.
“I didn’t realise there were so many street papers around the world - but that’s great. It’s a good system.”
“I found selling The Big Issue extremely difficult. It was fine when the cameras were around and there was a big hustle and bustle, but as soon as I was on my own, people just walked past me like I didn’t exist. They didn’t even look me in the eye.
“Hearing that there are street papers in so many countries is so exciting. I just hope INSP gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Wow!”
“It’s been an eye opener. It’s crazy the number of people who just walk by you and ignore you.”
“I wanted to get involved because as a kid, I had been homeless. I come from a family of people who have struggled with poverty.
“I’ve always bought The Big Issue. People have got used to seeing it, but we have to highlight homelessness. I like to have a chat to the vendor, because people don’t talk to homeless people.
“I think it’s important that INSP raises the profile of The Big Issue and let people see what’s happening on their city streets.”
“It’s really brought home for me what it must be like. Hard enough to do it for an hour but for my friend Tom and other people that are doing this day in, day out, I have a little bit of an appreciation for how demanding it really is.”
“It was very, very tough and very, very cold. I’ll tell you, though - the people of Glasgow love The Big Issue. That was one thing that came through. The attitude of the people who go out and sell it – the fact that they really want to do something for themselves and improve their lot – it’s inspirational, frankly. It was a privilege to get to be part of that experience.
“The Big Issue is a fantastic magazine. People who haven’t read it or haven’t read it for a long time don’t know what they’re missing.”
“I’ve seen a lot of the street papers from all over the world and I think they’re all really good and really different. They do a fantastic job.”
“I found the experience very humbling. If I ever find a sales person who says they’re finding it hard to sell a house or a product, I’m going to tell them they need to come up to Sauchiehall Street and try to sell The Big Issue.
“It’s a hard call. It’s cold. You get some wonderful people who stop and speak and then you get some people who don’t engage. And that’s the hardest thing - being invisible. It’s given me a sense of the reality of how hard it is for these people to stand here and sell this, to get themselves some money and get themselves back up on the ladder.”