Street Smart Chicago

411: Shiny Street

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StreetWise, the general-interest paper offering sustainability to homeless and low-income vendors, is going glossy. “We have always wanted to improve the look and quality of our product,” says Ben Cook, StreetWise designer. StreetWise is a non-profit organization “designed to help severely impoverished men and women out of poverty.” Since its inception in 1992, it has employed more than 3,600 homeless men and women as vendors. By selling StreetWise each vendor is given an opportunity to learn business skills and ultimately net enough income to become self-sufficient. The former twelve-page, one-dollar paper issue yielded sixty-five cents in profit for the vendor. The sixteen-to-twenty-page glossy magazine style will allow the salesman to earn one dollar and twenty-five cents per copy.  “Customers used to give a dollar and walk off without taking the paper, assuming that it wasn’t worth reading. Now we are hoping that the customer will be interested and will actually read the paper and increase our sales,” Cook says. The magazine’s throwing a launch party November 5, featuring Chicago saxman Ray Silkman, at CloseUp2 Jazz Club, 6pm-11pm.

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