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Vendor Essay by William Plowman: Why Street Papers Are Important

Tue, Feb 5, 2013

StreetWise hosts a writing workshop for StreetWise participants to learn, practice and strengthen their compositional skills. Every Monday, Volunteer Marcie Bearman leads the workshop, which has grown quite popular. The following essay was written during the workshop in honor of Street Paper Vendor Week 2013.

Street newspapers are very important because there are so many people who need jobs, but cannot get them. The great thing about street newspapers is that when you try to get a job selling them, you will not get turned down. Not true when you apply for other jobs.

For example, when you apply for a job at a well known drug store chain, you might be turned down for who knows what reasons. Common lame excuses include, but are not limited to, you have a criminal record, or a disability, or are gay, or do not have a lot of experience.

That excuse about not having experience sure does come in handy! That exquisite little reason can be a smokescreen to get away with turning down anybody and everybody an employer wants to discriminate against.

The StreetWise organization accepts all potential vendors without discriminating provided they go through the training provided free of charge, pass the test to show they understand the rules and have tried to learn basic sales techniques. Then the vendors must follow the rules set forth as standards by the organization. Vendors are not allowed to panhandle, must be polite and learn to budget their money. StreetWise vendors have to pay for part of every paper they sell up front. Working as a street paper vendor helps people develop more self-esteem and learn responsibility.

Selling street papers is very different from panhandling. Panhandlers have nothing to lose and can behave very badly with no real consequences. Street paper vendors will lose their vendor badges if they are reported breaking rules. The public should understand the difference and try to support and encourage the vendors they encounter on the street.

Even with a job as a vendor, it is very difficult to save and budget money. It is not a job that pays by the hour and therefore a vendor does not know how much he will earn any given day. Some vendors do not earn enough to pay for housing and do not want to stay in the shelter system. It is an exhausting and unpredictable task to try to earn enough to get ahead selling street papers, but it is better than not having a job at all.

By StreetWise Vendor William Plowman

To learn more about how you can get involved with Street Paper Vendor Week 2013 and the fun digital programs StreetWise is hosting, click HERE.

To learn more about our StreetWise vendors and their unique, individual stories, click HERE

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