How long have you been selling Big Issue North for?
Nineteen years. I’ve been here for a long time, longer than most of the staff members who work in the Big Issue North offices.
Why do you still do it?
I’ve always sold papers. I used to do the evening papers in Leeds and York. I like meeting different people and making sure that I give good service.
‘I get ahead on all my bills. That way I never have to worry’
How are sales going?
I’m doing good. I work hard. I used to sell near the student union but I moved from there to Orchard Square near the town hall. I go to my old pitch now and again but it’s not as good at the moment because not all the students have been going in. I don’t think the city is much quieter than it used to be though. It seems to be okay for me.
What’s the secret to good sales?
I always make sure I have loose change available so I always give my customers the right amount back. I won’t have a card reader because some people don’t trust them. Trust is important to me. If you are honest with your customers, you will have them for a long time. It annoys me when other vendors break the rules. They shouldn’t do it. I don’t like to see people begging with the magazines. I know people get into a bad way. I’ve been in a bad way myself, but I’ve pulled myself out if it.
What do you spend your money on?
I get ahead on all my bills. That’s important. I keep paying all my bills even if I’m not in debt. That way I never have to worry. I also like buying nice clothes, like getting good coats to keep me warm and dry in winter.
How is the rest of your life?
It’s okay. I’ve got a new girlfriend. She lives in Bridlington, on the coast, so I’ve got free holidays. I met her on Facebook. I’ve been going out with her for about six weeks, but she is in hospital at the moment. She’s got pneumonia. I can’t go and visit her because of Covid. I’ve had both my vaccinations but you still have to be careful.
How’s your dog doing?
Oh, she’s still with me, Roxy. She’s nine years old and she’s doing fine. I’ve also got a cat now and the cat and Roxy get on well. The cat doesn’t bother Roxy and Roxy doesn’t bother the cat.
You’re a big football fan, aren’t you? Who do you support and who is your favourite player?
What team?! Liverpool obviously! They are doing well at the moment. I reckon we will finish the season either second or third in the league. Mo Salah is one of my favourite players. He’s good at his football. But I don’t think he’ll stay for much longer. I think he’s after getting paid more money.
What do you think about how much footballers get paid?
They shouldn’t get so much money. Look at the state of things now. Half the shops shut down. There’s no money anywhere. The NHS and things are all in trouble and footballers are getting paid loads of money. It’s just wrong.
What makes you happy?
People being treated well and doing a good job.
What makes you sad?
In October, when mum’s birthday is. She died three years ago. Every year, her birthday makes me sad. I get up early and work really hard all that day so that I don’t think about it.
What was your childhood like?
It was hard. My stepdad was violent to my mum. I remember one time when he raised his hand to her and I went downstairs and I said to him: “If you do that again I’ll make sure it’s the last time you do.” I’ve got a sister and a brother but I’m in the middle. I was always the boss of everything.
What do you do when you’re not selling the magazine?
I get a taxi after I finish work and I go back home, put my feet up and chill out. I like watching all the soaps – EastEnders, Coronation Street – but my favourite is Emmerdale because there are some good stories in it at the moment.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you very much for buying the magazines and don’t forget that I am going to be in next year’s Big Issue North calendar! I’ve got people lined up to buy it already.