The ‘Street is my Store’ shopfront mural, created by Global Street Art’s lead artist Peter Barber, visualises what a Big Issue-branded shop might look like on a typical high street.
The street art, located at Village Underground in Shoreditch, east London, aims to reframe the perception of what it means to sell The Big Issue magazine and to highlight the hard work of vendors.
The stunt also comes as the Big Issue Group (BIG) launches a new digital initiative empowering selected vendors with personalised QR codes allowing consumers to find out more about their chosen vendor and to share ways to buy the magazine with their friends and family to boost sales. This initiative will eventually be rolled out to all vendors.
Lord Bird, founder of the Big Issue Group, said: “I started the Big Issue to help people help themselves off the streets and out of poverty. Sadly, the work we do has never been more important. And just like any small business, it simply doesn’t work without the support of the community. We hope this mural will resonate with the public and help boost the visibility of our vendors and the work they do.
“We are also pleased to mark the launch of yet another way by which customers can further connect with their local vendor. Which is why we are urging you to help boost your local vendor’s income by scanning their personalised QR code to share the vendor’s story and subscribe.”
Big Issue Group collaborated with a creative team and Global Street Art to bring the realistic 3D storefront to life.
The work features a Big Issue-branded store complete with a shop window showcasing magazine covers and vendors’ tabards and a 3D-effect shop sign.
The artwork measures 7.4 metres (24.2 feet) high by 16 metres (52 feet) wide and will be on display until 24 July.
Vendors will also be selling the magazine alongside the artwork as The Big Issue looks to support sellers through the cost of living crisis.
Village Underground, the site of the mural, has benefitted from support from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue. This investment allowed the team behind Village Underground to refurbish an old art deco theatre, turning it into new music venue EartH.
Alongside running two music venues, the social enterprise works to offer young people in Hackney a way into the creative industries. Run the Track, a scheme culminating in a live show in February, saw a group of young creatives record an album and receive mentorship from figures in the industry.
Paul Logan, 64, who sells the magazine outside Pret on Cavendish Square, London, said: “I hope that the mural will raise awareness of the fact that Big Issue vendors are small business people, buying and selling the magazine to make a living.”
And he welcomed the QR code scheme as another tool in the box which “will bring customers closer to our stories, where we’ve come from and where we are going.”
Vendors buy magazines for £2 and sell them on for £4. Customers can also subscribe with a vendor online, which provides a vital additional source of regular income.
With the support of BIG, these micro-business owners learn vital skills that help them grow and develop, meeting their personal, social and financial goals. However, these businesses wouldn’t be viable without public support.
The challenge people are facing during the cost of living crisis is reflected in vendor numbers, which have increased by 10% since last year. BIG’s recent Impact Report also revealed demand for food and fuel support from vendors had increased sevenfold.
BIG has bolstered support of its vendor network in a number of ways to ensure vendors are able to sell as many copies of the magazine as possible. Throughout 2022, BIG supported vendors with digital and financial inclusion and helped them increase their earnings through its frontline team. 221 vendors were provided with Zettle card readers and 205 smartphones were given to vendors. 50% of vendors in an average week are now able to accept cashless payments.
In addition to this sales support, BIG supported 1,174 vendors through the Big Issue frontline services to access support services including housing, wellbeing, financial advice and support, employment and food and fuel support.
To support vendors, buy a copy of the magazine or subscribehere.
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