Let’s celebrate Vendor Week!
Every February, Vendor Week celebrates street paper vendors with a weeklong event. It’s a time to honor the hard work of our community.
Real Change vendors work hard. Every day, rain or shine, you can find one of hundreds of Real Change vendors on street corners, in front of grocery stores, at farmers markets, all across Seattle.
Their job is an important one. Bringing you the news. Connecting our community to the stories that matter most, the issues that shape our city. But it’s more than that.
If you’re reading this paper, chances are you purchased it from a vendor directly. You gave them $2.00 in cash (or maybe a fiver), or you asked for their badge number and made a quick Venmo transaction. You picked up a crisply folded copy and tucked it under your arm. Maybe you asked them which stories to look out for, maybe they commented on the cover art or you shared your thoughts on an op-ed in the last issue.
However the purchase unfolded, you had a moment of connection.
That moment of connection is what fuels Real Change.
And this week, Vendor Week, is all about honoring that connection. Celebrating the way that information is shared across Seattle and our region. It’s what builds a more informed public, a more connected community. It’s what helps dispel damaging narratives around homelessness, and creates a shared understanding of the barriers and challenges of poverty in one of the wealthiest cities in our country.
And it all starts with someone deciding to take an opportunity to work as a vendor.
Real Change celebrates vendor week by pairing local celebrities and special guests with Real Change vendors to try their hand at selling the paper. Their vendor selling partners keep all the paper sales proceeds, and the goal is to expand readership while developing a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Real Change vendor in Seattle.
This year, we have an incredible lineup of vendors and their celeb selling partners. Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard, abolitionist and organizer Nikkita Oliver, Rainier Avenue Radio’s Mac McGregor, comedian Brett Hamil, Councilmember Tammy Morales, the Emerald’s Marcus Harrison Green and so many others, join us to sell the paper alongside vendor partners.
To get involved, like and follow us on social media where we’ll be using #VendorWeek to keep up with the vendor pairs. Each guest vendor will share their badge number, and you can Venmo @Real-Change and put their badge number in the notes to help them reach their goals.
Last year, Nikkita Oliver and their vendor-selling partner, Ron, dominated the competition, selling a total of $4,422 in papers to almost 250 customers. Brett Hamil and Spek got into a friendly competition, egging each other on to beat their goals and sell the most papers. We always have fun tallying up the leaderboard and seeing just how many papers we can move in a week. In 2021, Vendor Week brought in a total of $13,113.62, selling the newspaper to 670 customers. Can we exceed that, together, this year?
Real Change, as regular readers will know, is a part of a larger movement taking place across the globe. The International Network of Street Papers is a group of newspapers in 34 different countries around the world, each of which offers work opportunity to people who need it. Street papers are often the only work opportunity available to people experiencing homelessness and poverty in their area. We’re proud to be a part of this global movement that recognizes not only the importance of income earning opportunities for all, but also of print journalism during a time of digital media.
So we invite you to join us. Join the celebration of the workers who bring you the largest print weekly newspaper in Seattle.
This week, make a goal to purchase your paper from a vendor, and let them know what you think about their contribution to the fabric of our shared city. Make a point to tell them what it means to you to see them, in their high-vis, union-sponsored Real Change vest, what it means to you to read this independent paper.
This week, join us to celebrate the hard work of our community. Together, let’s lift up this powerful paper and honor the work of the people who bring us the news, day after day.
Camilla Walter is the executive director of Real Change.
Read more of the Feb. 16-22, 2022 issue.