Mentors help new vendors find the courage to succeed at Vancouver street paper Megaphone

Two Megaphone street paper vendors smile at the camera wearing red t-shirts and caps

New Megaphone vendor Paul Grigatis (left) enjoys meeting the public with Vendor and Volunteer Coordinator Devon Tremain at a recent pop-up plaza event in Vancouver. A new mentorship program pairs new vendors with seasoned pros to show them the ropes of selling. Credit: Paul Grigaitis.

By Paul Grigaitis

  • Vendor stories
Originally published:
Megaphone, street paper, Canada

Megaphone’s new vendor mentorship program provides sales support and fosters confidence. Paul Grigaitis, who was a community newspaper reporter before finding himself struggling with addiction and his mental health, became a vendor at Megaphone only to feel that he didn’t have the confidence to go out and do it well. The magazine’s new program helped him get going.

Those who know me well know that I am a very shy and quiet person. I imagine others can sense my lack of confidence in social situations. It would probably surprise none of them that I sold zero copies of Megaphone during my first month as a vendor for the local magazine.

I became interested in working with Megaphone since I moved to Vancouver about nine years ago, but I never saw myself becoming a vendor. As a former community newspaper reporter, I was more interested in writing for the magazine. But I was also struggling with addiction and mental health issues that prevented me from keeping a stable lifestyle for years.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally signed on as a vendor with Megaphone. I had been out of the workforce for a while and saw selling the street paper as a simple way to become involved in the magazine somehow.

While Megaphone provided me with adequate training and supplied me with 10 copies of the May magazine at no cost, I failed to find the courage and confidence to go out in the public and approach people I didn’t know as potential customers during that first month.

I thought I was too shy to do it. I told myself I wasn’t a natural salesperson and that I wasn’t socially confident enough. Those excuses made it easy for me to postpone plans to sell the magazine enough times that the entire month passed by. The current issue became out of date as unused copies sat on a bookshelf in my room. I felt guilty for letting the product go to waste and was disappointed in myself for not even trying. Because I was ashamed, I didn’t attend the vendors meeting the following month. I thought my involvement with the magazine was over.

That was until I was contacted and invited to participate in Megaphone’s new Vendor Mentorship Program. The program that began in July allows new vendors to work with an experienced vendor for a shift.

I was still a reluctant vendor with mentor David Deocera by my side. But throughout the shift I started to feel more at ease. By the end of the shift, I determined that it wasn’t that hard at all and told my mentor I would be out again on my own.

It still feels a bit awkward on my own sometimes, but I get more comfortable with the time I spend vending. I become more confident and more motivated with each sale I make. I’m happy to say that I now enjoy the work. I enjoy greeting people as they walk by and the pleasantness of being outdoors. But the biggest benefit for me is being able to work on my social skills.

Having a mentor with me pushed me to put in some effort and helped me find the courage to do something I thought I couldn’t do. I now have a renewed sense of confidence I haven’t felt for years and found new joy where I didn’t expect to find it.

Looking back, I see now that the hardest thing about being a Megaphone vendor is just getting out there and connecting with some people. All it really takes is putting in some time and effort. I am thankful to my mentor David for helping me realize this.

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