#VendorWeek 2019: Real Change captures Seattle public’s imagination with #WheresStone challenge

On Wednesday (6 February), Seattle street paper Real Change joined fellow INSP members across the world in putting on a selling event to celebrate #VendorWeek, inviting celebrities and other notable public figures to join vendors on the streets of the city for the day.

Congregating at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle, participants included comedian Brett Hamil, writer, journalist and Real Change columnist Hanna Brooks Olsen, activist Cary Moon, Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes, Real Change founding director Tim Harris, and many more.

As they gathered their stack of papers and went off with their experienced vendor partners to begin the day’s selling, excitement was beginning to stir in another, unknown part of Seattle.

This was because Stone Gossard, guitarist from legendary Seattle band Pearl Jam, was in a secret location selling copies of the street paper alongside regular vendor Darrell Wrenn, who regularly sells over 600 copies of Real Change a month.

Wren interviewed the rocker last summer at the Real Change office about his homeless activism and ahead of the band’s homecoming concerts to raise awareness of the homelessness crisis.

On Wednesday, the two were reunited, but their pitch remained a mystery. Real Change began revealing clues through social media on Tuesday evening, with the hashtag #WheresStone, to entice members of the Seattle public to go searching for the pair. The first and 100th customers to buy the paper would receive a special prize.

The idea was also featured on the front page of Real Change’s new issue, released on the day.

In the end, Pearl Jam fans and regular Real Change readers alike could find Gossard at the Pergola, an iconic wrought-iron sturcture, built in 1853, located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, just a couple of blocks from the the street paper’s office.

The pair sold 115 copies in just two hours.

As well as the selected customers who won some special Pearl Jam swag, the band have partnered with Real Change to give away more prizes to those willing to donate to the street paper mission and vendors.

The campaign was a roaring success on social media, with Gossard, his fellow guest vendors, and regular Real Change vendors all receiving a boost. Stopping for a vendor on the day meant the chance to meet influential Seattleites endorsing the work of Real Change, as well as an opportunity to learn more about Real Change programs, which is what #VendorWeek is all about.

Read more coverage of #VendorWeek 2019 here.