Three weeks ago we ran a Vendor of the Week article featuring long-time vendor Richard C. After six years of selling in front of the Safeway storefront at 75th and Roosevelt, Richard had recently been told to move away from the doors to the edge of the property. It didn't take long before his customers and friends noticed the change, and soon the conversation was set in motion.
Richard explained to customers what he had been told -- that store policy would not allow him to sell the paper on their private property. The customers took their concerns to store management.
One of Richard's loyal customers explained why he felt moved to act on his behalf: "Both my wife and I were extremely upset seeing Richard selling his papers 25 yards from his customer base. He acted so stoically while being treated so unfairly. It was obvious that Richard's only defense was to solicit help from others who had other means or tools. We heard the call and acted."
Many other customers did the same.
Richard could have simply given up. Others may have walked away, found a new location where there was less trouble and better sales. But the people at that storefront had formed Richard's community over the last several years. He showed up each day, seven hours a day and seven days a week, and sold his papers from the edge of the parking lot -- sometimes making only a few dollars a day in return.
Richard's perseverance, along with the immense support and advocacy of his customers, eventually paid off. At the start of March, management informed Richard that they were reversing the decision and he would be allowed to sell once again at the store's entrance.
"When customers care enough to advocate for vendors it is a great thing," said Real Change Director of Vendor Services Tara Moss.
"A huge thank you for all the people who took the time to call Safeway and supported Richard C. selling at the store's door. I strongly encourage all customers to advocate for vendors to sell on store property. Being close to the door instead of further out on the sidewalk makes a huge difference to our vendors and thus their ability to support themselves," Moss said.
Customers are grateful that their voices were heard and made a difference for their favorite vendor. And Richard? He tells me, "I'm so happy. I'm still dancing!"