The Big Issue : Edition 529
THEBIGISSUE27JAN–9FEB2017 15 IF LUKAS IS late for work, there’s no boss standing at the door tapping her watch. There’s no timesheet or punch card. That’s because Lukas doesn’t work in an office. He works on the streets of Melbourne. Lukas is his own boss. He is a Big Issue vendor. Vendors of The Big Issue spend their own money buying copies of the magazine for $3.50, they then sell them on the street for $7. How much, how often and just how they sell is up to them. Lukas is a pretty quiet vendor – he doesn’t spruik or joke like some people do. He stands on his pitch, giving the occasional muddled tourist directions, and smiling. When a customer comes by he engages them in thoughtful conversation. When you ask Lukas how a new edition is going, he is unfailingly positive. But being your own boss is not always easy. “You’ve got no-one watching over your shoulder, you might take it easy some days, and there is no-one to pressure you,” he says. “I usually find that I have that drive every day, but there’s always that one day, like everyone else, you don’t want to get out of bed. But I always end up pushing myself and doing it.” He also talks about the demands of running his own business, like saving up to ensure he has enough stock for busy periods. “I am definitely my own boss. I learned that pretty quick over Christmas, having to manage when it is busy. Not only money, but stock and making sure that you have it available for your customers.” It’s International Vendor Week, and this year we wanted to draw attention to the tenacity, indefatigable spirit and business acumen of the people who go out and sell street papers around the world – people like Lukas, who has been selling the magazine for almost a year. It’s a week that is celebrated around the world by the International Network of Street Papers (see more on p22) and the tens of thousands of people who work for street papers globally. For so many of those people, this is more than just a job. “I was homeless for seven or eight months, I was on the street. Selling The Big Issue helped me out of that. It’s kept me on the right track,” says Lukas. He’s also involved in The Big Issue Classroom program, where he tells his story to school groups. He says it has all given him self-confidence and the chance to interact with a lot of people. “I work every day, seven days. I like it. If I stayed at home, I’d just go crazy,” he says. “I love coming into the city. I come out for the people, but also Melbourne itself – it’s an awesome place to be every day.” by Katherine Smyrk photograph by James Braund Lukas sells The Big Issue at Centreway, Collins Street. DRIVE, INDEPENDENCE AND TENACITY ARE JUST SOME OF THE THINGS YOU NEED TO RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS.