What, you might ask, exactly is “shopping with a social echo”? It’s quite simple really: when you buy a product from The Big Issue Shop, every item you purchase is made by a company that does something good.
That is either a charity that employs people who would otherwise be marginalised, in Britain or elsewhere in the world. Or a social enterprise that ploughs its profits back in to helping other people. A firm that reuses and recycles materials to create something beautiful and useful. Or a community interest company that fuels growth in its local area by bringing in manufacturing, skills, training and commerce.
So when you shop with a social echo you’re putting good back out there into the world with every single penny you spend, and not just pumping cash into a faceless corporate behemoth. And we guarantee that every product you buy from our Shop is top quality, most often hand-crafted, and perfectly made with love.
Also, each purchase from The Big Issue Shop also helps The Big Issue to fund our own work with people living on the margins in society.
You’re putting good back out into the world with every single penny you spend
As Big Issue founder John Bird put it: “The Big Issue Shop is a very special shop because what we sell helps. It helps you because it’s something that you want to buy. It helps us because it gives us income for our work. And it helps the people who make the stuff that we sell to you!
“It’s a virtuous circle. Winners all around. And it’s all social trading.”
The Big Issue knows a thing or two about the incredible effects that can come out of social trading: for over 25 years we have been pioneering the social business model, creating and printing a magazine that is sold to homeless people, for them to sell on, gaining invaluable skills in communication, sales techniques, money management, time management and customer care.
Our Big Issue vendors are micro-entrepreneurs themselves, who must ensure they have enough money from sales of the magazine to buy more stock the following week – and selling on the streets to the public in the great British weather at all times of year is a challenge that they rise to week in, week out.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
In fact so successful has our social trading model become, that our vendors have sold in excess of 200 million copies of The Big Issue across the UK, and we have helped 92,000 to put £115 million of income into their pockets. Last year alone our vendors worked so hard they earned a total of £5.5 million from buying each copy of the magazine for £1.25 and selling for £2.50. And they have earned self-respect and employability skills along the way, and often become a well-loved focal point in their local communities.
As John Bird explains, social consumerism is a win-win – which is why if we transform The Big Issue Shop into a kind of ‘social Amazon’, an ever-growing online trader that only sells items that put something back into society, we aren’t just wantonly buying stuff. We’re doing something useful, building lives and communities. John adds: “It makes you part of the whole process of improving people’s conditions that need improving.”
From gorgeous kids’ toys to cool custom-made T-shirts you can personalise with your own political slogan, or beautiful jewellery to bags you can use as a slow-cooker, we aim to offer a vast range of innovative, unique and very special products at The Big Issue Shop.
So welcome to shopping with a social echo – you’ll never look back!