International Street Paper Vendor Week recap – Groundcover Edition

By all measures, this was our most successful Vendor Week ever. We were honored to have five Celebrity Guest Vendors join us in promoting Groundcover News, we did a studio interview for the Lucy Ann Lance radio show, we had a lovely social hour with our customers, and ran an online article about Vendor Week and Groundcover. As an added treat for our vendors, the University of Michigan student group, Michigan Is My Home, delivered high-quality bags full of self-care items to all the vendors they could find out selling during the week. Many of these students also came to our mixer and got feedback on the bags from the vendors as they got to know one another.

This year’s Celebrity Guest Vendors – Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds, Ann Arbor City Councilman Jason Frenzel, former University of Michigan and NFL running back Jamie Morris, State Representative Yousef Rabhi and Ann Arbor City Councilman Chuck Warpehoski – proved to be an exceptionally able group of salespeople our vendors thoroughly enjoyed selling with. Morris’s media expertise (he co-hosts a daily sports talk radio show, The M Zone) was apparent in his adroit handling of the interview that took place on the street corner. Rabhi so enjoyed talking with his constituents while he told them about Groundcover that he asked if he could do this again before next Vendor Week! (More photos, videos and links can be found on our Facebook page and under the Vendor Week tab on our website.)

International Street Paper Vendor Week was celebrated in different ways around the world. The Big Issue North, a UK street paper which has had prominent politicians and public figures as guest vendors in the past, turned to its regular customers for Vendor Week this year. The invitation was accepted by 25 customers who went out to sell with some mentoring by regular vendors who were rewarded with the sales proceeds.

Following her experience selling the paper alongside regular vendor Monica, Maxine Peake said, “It was really hard. It was fun though – it was great to spend time with Monica. But people ignoring you and blanking you is a difficult thing, it was quite soul destroying. On the other hand, some people were lovely too.”

The staff of the Swiss street paper, Surprise, loaded an old VW camper van with vendor stories, chorale performances and alternative city tour descriptions (city tours by vendors that highlight social service providers and places that low-income people congregate rather than the typical tourist sites) and toured Switzerland during Vendor Week. They parked in public places in Basel, Bern and Zurich and drew attention with musical performances. They invited passersby to view the contents of the van and learn more about Surprise and the people who sell it. They served soup, tea and cake to van visitors.

There are so many ways to highlight the struggles and contributions of street paper vendors – several papers collaborated on “Uncovered,” a Glasgow, Scotland exhibition of the covers of various street newspapers. Whatever the vehicle, vendors appreciate others taking the time to share in a bit of their reality and acknowledge their contributions to society.

Here is the radio interview of Lit Kurtz and Susan Beckett on the Lucy Ann Lance Show:

View the MLive article for more:

View photos from the event below!

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