South Tyrol’s zebra. follows in street papers’ footsteps with first CEO selling event

By Lisa Frei, zebra.

There are street papers like zebra. all over the world. Some of them regularly draw attention to what they are aiming to do by having CEOs, business leaders, politicians, celebrities and other notable members of their local community act as vendors for a day. Successful executives take on the role for a few hours, thus elevating the profile and standing of street paper vendors and their product whilst giving themselves a unique, new experience.

For the first CEO-sell in South Tyrol, zebra. publishers OEW (Organisation for World Solidarity) managed to secure the services of sportswear mogul Heiner Oberrauch, owner and President of the Oberalp group, which includes the well-known outdoor brands of Salewa and Dynafit. For more than two hours earlier this month (8 July) he was at the market in Bolzano, in Laubengasse and Museumstraße, selling zebra. with the pitch’s usual vendor, David Charles.

(l-r) vendor David Charles, Heiner Oberrauch, zebra. editor Lisa Frei, zebra. vendor manager and social worker Alessio Giordano. [Courtesy of zebra.]

In preparation for this new sales venture, Nigerian-born vendor David made Oberrauch aware of the basic rules regarding selling on the street and gave him some tips. As the afternoon progressed, he became more and more surprised by the unexpected sales-talent of his new colleague. As the 38-year-old said: “Mr Oberrauch reacts quickly and knows how to approach people.”

With his own special zebra. ID for the day, Oberrauch was motivated. “Just reading zebra. provides a new perspective, but the experience of selling it is something else. It’s not an easy job,” he said.

Heiner Oberrauch's special one of zebra. vendor badge. [Courtesy of zebra.]

And yet he came across a lot of people who regarded the paper with a certain look – some did not want to be approached whilst others made excuses. “On the whole though, I hadn’t expected such a positive response,” said the 62-year-old businessman. He had looked forward to the day, but had been somewhat apprehensive. He now hoped that the paper would become an even more permanent part of the South Tyrol region.

Alessio Giordano works for OEW and zebra. as a social worker with the vendors. He was in Bolzano while Oberrauch participated in the event. He pointed out: “In view of the present political climate, and at a time when those on the edges of society are increasingly marginalised and criminalised, it is invaluable for a project like zebra. to have such successful, renowned individuals of rank on our side as an example to others.”

Heiner Oberrauch sells zebra. with vendor David. [Courtesy of zebra.] Heiner Oberrauch sells zebra. with vendor David. [Courtesy of zebra.]

The sale of street papers gives meaningful employment and the chance to earn some money to those who find life hard and have little chance of getting a job. Vendors of zebra. do not beg; they sell a product that enables them to have a place in the life and commerce of South Tyrol, that gives them self-confidence, self-respect and self-worth. There are about 60 sellers of the current issue, registered with the OEW, and identifiable by their violet-coloured ID. They sell the paper at the price of two Euros. One of these goes to the producers and one to the seller. Most of what is written in the paper comes from volunteers and concerns good news – tales of encouragement about particular people who live in or come from South Tyrol.

Translated from German by Louise Thomas