VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s been a rough year for a number of not-for-profits, but Vancouver’s Megaphone has managed to find a way to adapt.
You’ll often see its vendors on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria offering its printed magazines and calendars for sale, but this year, the publication is selling a day planner.
Megaphone is best known for its annual Hope in Shadows calendar, along with the publication Voices of the Street, but it had to change its game plan after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I mean, we’ve all had to make changes with 2020, and we were motivated by the need to make sure that we could make sales online that we had to, in the event that our vendors couldn’t sell on the streets. So the traditional, kind of irregular sized calendar was really costly to ship, so we redesigned the whole package as a day planner so it’s easier to mail,” says Paula Carlson, managing editor at Megaphone.
“It still has all the great features, the wonderful photographs, the stories. It also has some note cards in there that you can mail, and it still has the calendar grid and everything, it’s just easier for our vendors in case they’re impacted by the effects of COVID.”
Paulson says there’s also a vendor designed wrapping paper that’s included when you purchase the publication’s December magazine.
.@MegaphoneMag vendors are back in #VancouverBC & #VictoriaBC this year, and they're offering day planners instead of the typical calendar.
AND w/its December magazine, it's offering some vendor-designed wrapping paper. One includes a Santa orca, the other woodland creatures. pic.twitter.com/7lwMjCoRXy
— Ria 'Hall-y Jolly' ???????? Renouf (@riarenouf) December 8, 2020
“It’s just fantastic. This year has a west coast theme, so we have some orcas with a Santa hat, and we have some woodland creatures in the forests, some deer, and Stephen [Scott], one of our vendors, designed the deer motif. Louise [Boileven], another one of our vendors, designed the Santa orca. So they’re really fantastic, it’s free wrapping paper, that’s worth the purchase alone.”
Scott, a regular vendor, has been with the publication for nearly a decade.
“I have very good people in my life as a result of Megaphone,” Scott says in a press release, “I’m so grateful. The community support I’ve found has helped me create my own family.”
For Boileven, it’s been more than just earning some extra cash. “I like the concept of support. It’s helping me get out there. I like that it’s an interactive job.”
However, with social distancing measures, Carlson says that social interaction took a bit of a hit this year – which it first saw when the lockdowns first happened.
Have you had a chance to pick up our new Hope in Shadows dayplanner yet? This year, the calendar has been re-designed as a functional, conveniently-sized dayplanner. ????
Purchase yours from a vendor near you. https://t.co/3Y8SFtrPgf.
— Megaphone Magazine (@MegaphoneMag) November 13, 2020
“When [it first happened] in March, we pulled the print edition of Megaphone, because we were just sort of seeing what was happening as we went forward, I mean, we were all navigating this new landscape, and it wasn’t safe to have our vendors out on the street selling face-to-face. We actually just moved online for I think it was…April, May and June. Our donors and supporters were great, they continued to buy online, and we’d distribute the funds to our active vendors that way.”
Even after going back to print editions in July, Carlson says vendors noticed a difference.
“Even back in print, because not all of our vendors, [but] a lot of them have health challenges, and they can’t go out and sell face-to-face, so it’s been challenging to lose that connection. We’ve really seen them hurting from that, because it’s so much more than just getting out and selling a magazine and earning some extra money. It’s getting that connection, talking with customers, that’s what they’re really missing.”
Megaphone vendors buy each monthly magazine for 75 cents and sell it for $2, and each calendar is purchased at $10 and sold for $20. Vendors are able to keep the profits.