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Jason Metzdorff: taking StreetWise by storm

Thu, Jan 24, 2013

When Jason Metzdorff first saw StreetWise vendors selling the magazine in downtown Chicago in 1992, he thought it was simply a magazine. Now, 20 years later and working at StreetWise, Metzdorff realizes the magazine is so much more.

“I have been really surprised by how helpful the people at StreetWise have been,” Metzdorff said. “The people at StreetWise are really concerned about every vendors’ life.”

Metzdorff, who started working for StreetWise in January 2012, recently won StreetWise Vendor Rookie of the Year. “I was surprised when I won the award because there are so many other great vendors that work for StreetWise.”

Despite the success of other new StreetWise vendors, Metzdorff’s work for the magazine clearly stands out. Metzdorff works six to seven days a week, eight hours a day. He vends in two different locations and still manages to find time to work with the marketing of the magazine.

“I consider myself an iron man,” said Metzdorff. “I work for myself and to improve my financial situation, but I work mainly for StreetWise as a whole. When I won the award it fulfilled my goal of getting recognition from the organization and it made a statement that I am going to be here for a long time.” Metzdorff mentioned that his next goal is to win Vendor of the Year, but as of now he is solely concentrating on being at his location and serving his customers.

Ironically, what has led to Metzdorff’s success at StreetWise was the reason why he was laid off from his job in 2009.

After working as a bicycle messenger for 27 years, Metzdorff was laid off due to the increase of email and fax. Three years later, Metzdorff has taken to social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, to interact with his customers and publicize the magazine. New media outlets have propelled him to become the StreetWise vendor he is today.

“This past August Brittany Langmeyer [Director of Design and Marketing at StreetWise] and her intern approached us vendors and suggested that we get involved in social media to improve our business,” said Metzdorff. “I really liked the idea and took to Twitter and Facebook to promote myself.”

However, Metzdorff didn’t only promote himself through social media. “I often promote the StreetWise Neighbor Carts. When they first were created in the fall I decided to tell my customers about the carts on Twitter,” said Metzdorff. “I have had quite a few customers of mine actually buy food from the Neighbor Carts.”

Metzdorff attributes his motivation to the recognition he has received. “What motivates me is that I am being recognized as a hard worker,” said Metzdorff. “StreetWise is here to help people, not to turn our backs on them.”

You can find Jason from Monday to Friday in the morning at 4753 N. Broadway and from midday to early evening Monday to Sunday at 5201 N. Sheridan. You can also follow Jason on Twitter @JayMetzdorff

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