News

Big Issue mural transforms Shoreditch street into store for magazine sellers

‘The Street is my Store’ stunt comes as the Big Issue Group launches personalised QR codes to help vendors connect with customers and boost their sales

Big Issue seller Paul Logan at Big Issue mural in London

The 24 foot by 52 foot mural transformed Village Underground in Shoreditch, East London. Image: Global Street Art

Big Issue Group has transformed a London street with a 24-foot tall shopfront mural of a Big Issue store to showcase how vendors are running their own business by selling the magazine.

The ‘Street is my Store’ shopfront mural, created by Global Street Art’s lead artist Peter Barber, visualises what a Big Issue-branded shop might look like on a typical high street.

The street art, located at Village Underground in Shoreditch, east London, aims to reframe the perception of what it means to sell The Big Issue magazine and to highlight the hard work of vendors.

The stunt also comes as the Big Issue Group (BIG) launches a new digital initiative empowering selected vendors with personalised QR codes allowing consumers to find out more about their chosen vendor and to share ways to buy the magazine with their friends and family to boost sales. This initiative will eventually be rolled out to all vendors.

Lord Bird, founder of the Big Issue Group, said: “I started the Big Issue to help people help themselves off the streets and out of poverty. Sadly, the work we do has never been more important. And just like any small business, it simply doesn’t work without the support of the community. We hope this mural will resonate with the public and help boost the visibility of our vendors and the work they do.

“We are also pleased to mark the launch of yet another way by which customers can further connect with their local vendor. Which is why we are urging you to help boost your local vendor’s income by scanning their personalised QR code to share the vendor’s story and subscribe.”

Big Issue Group collaborated with a creative team and Global Street Art to bring the realistic 3D storefront to life. 

The work features a Big Issue-branded store complete with a shop window showcasing magazine covers and vendors’ tabards and a 3D-effect shop sign.

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

The artwork measures 7.4 metres (24.2 feet) high by 16 metres (52 feet) wide and will be on display until 24 July.

Vendors will also be selling the magazine alongside the artwork as The Big Issue looks to support sellers through the cost of living crisis.

Village Underground, the site of the mural, has benefitted from support from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue. This investment allowed the team behind Village Underground to refurbish an old art deco theatre, turning it into new music venue EartH.

Alongside running two music venues, the social enterprise works to offer young people in Hackney a way into the creative industries. Run the Track, a scheme culminating in a live show in February, saw a group of young creatives record an album and receive mentorship from figures in the industry.

Big Issue seller Paul Logan at Big Issue mural in London
Customers will be able to support and learn more about Big Issue vendors like Paul Logan by scanning QR codes on lanyards. Image: Global Street Art

Paul Logan, 64, who sells the magazine outside Pret on Cavendish Square, London, said: “I hope that the mural will raise awareness of the fact that Big Issue vendors are small business people, buying and selling the magazine to make a living.”

And he welcomed the QR code scheme as another tool in the box which “will bring customers closer to our stories, where we’ve come from and where we are going.”

Vendors buy magazines for £2 and sell them on for £4. Customers can also subscribe with a vendor online, which provides a vital additional source of regular income. 

With the support of BIG, these micro-business owners learn vital skills that help them grow and develop, meeting their personal, social and financial goals. However, these businesses wouldn’t be viable without public support. 

The challenge people are facing during the cost of living crisis is reflected in vendor numbers, which have increased by 10% since last year. BIG’s recent Impact Report also revealed demand for food and fuel support from vendors had increased sevenfold. 

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

BIG has bolstered support of its vendor network in a number of ways to ensure vendors are able to sell as many copies of the magazine as possible. Throughout 2022, BIG supported vendors with digital and financial inclusion and helped them increase their earnings through its frontline team. 221 vendors were provided with Zettle card readers and 205 smartphones were given to vendors. 50% of vendors in an average week are now able to accept cashless payments.

In addition to this sales support, BIG supported 1,174 vendors through the Big Issue frontline services to access support services including housing, wellbeing, financial advice and support, employment and food and fuel support.

To support vendors, buy a copy of the magazine or subscribe here.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Dignified quality of life or gaslighting? Tories' 'triple lock plus' pension pledge divides voters
pensioner
General election 2024

Dignified quality of life or gaslighting? Tories' 'triple lock plus' pension pledge divides voters

National service for Gen Z, tax breaks for boomers: Why 'desperate' Tories are chasing older voters
General Election 2024

National service for Gen Z, tax breaks for boomers: Why 'desperate' Tories are chasing older voters

TSB Bank forced to change buy-to-let mortgage policy after renters' furious sit-in protest
Renters from Acorn union occupied TSB branches to force a climbdown on buy-to-let mortgages
Renting

TSB Bank forced to change buy-to-let mortgage policy after renters' furious sit-in protest

AI in schools: Bullies using AI to create sexually explicit images of classmates, parents warned
Artificial Intelligence

AI in schools: Bullies using AI to create sexually explicit images of classmates, parents warned

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know