- Organisation works with Global Street Art to create eye-catching 3D ‘shopfront’ in London to demonstrate how the business model works and challenge existing perceptions
- The social enterprise has launched a new digital initiative, empowering vendors with personalised QR codes to connect with their customers and earn more
A local Big Issue vendor who sells the magazine in Norwich, Simon Gravell, is one of ten vendors across the UK trialling a new digital initiative from the Big Issue Group.
The Big Issue Group (BIG) recently unveiled a shopfront mural in Shoreditch, London entitled – ‘The Street is my Store’ – in an effort to highlight that, despite not having a traditional bricks and mortar outlet from which to sell, vendors are running mini businesses, buying and selling copies of the magazine to earn a living in order to change their lives.
The mural, created by Global Street Art’s also aims to raise awareness of a new and innovative digital initiative that will help create new ways for customers to interact with vendors and help bolster Big Issue vendors’ income.
Simon Gravell, who is one of ten vendors offering the new digital initiative to his customers, and who sells the Big Issue outside Topshop, Norwich, spoke about when he started selling the Big Issue: “When I started selling the Big Issue I was living in a ditch, and my sales gave me the money to stop in a backpackers’ hostel. Because it was closed season, it was only £11 a night. Then I basically ended up in a tent. Once I got fed up with living in the tent, I decided it was time to get accommodation, so I started saving up all my money. Ended up getting a room in a private rental and using the Big Issue money to pay my rent. Now I’m living with my girlfriend, I use the Big Issue to pay the bills. It’s impacted me 100% in a positive way.”
On current public perceptions of the Big Issue, Simon explained that he felt people do understand how it works more now: “I think, in general, now people realise that we pay for the magazines. Whereas when I first started selling it, I overheard somebody say “oh the police give them to them to stop them begging”. But now I think people really understand we are self-employed business people.”
Simon spoke about what selling the magazine means to him: “I just love getting out there. I love the hustle. Meeting people. Saying good morning to somebody on the Monday, them grunting back at you and selling them a magazine on the Friday because you’ve won them round. You meet lots of people and your regulars actually become your friends over time.