Vancouver’s Megaphone magazine has become the first street paper in the world to create and release a mobile phone application to make it easier to find and support a vendor.
Launched today, the Megaphone Vendor Finder app features the cover and summary of the current issue, and helps people find vendors who have regular schedules and locations.
“Creating the app is a way for us to respond to customers who have expressed difficulty finding a vendor to purchase new issues from,” says Sean Condon, Megaphone’s executive director.
Street papers around the world, like Megaphone, help homeless and low-income individuals earn their own income by creating publications that are then purchased and resold by vendors.
Roughly 40 homeless and low-income Vancouverites sell Megaphone, which is published every two weeks. They buy each issue for 75 cents and sell it for $2—keeping the profits.
To date, technology has been little-used amongst street papers, and never in the form of an app. Yet they have apps for tracking iphones.
The Vendor Finder app was designed pro bono by Vancouver interactive firm Denim & Steel, who worked with Megaphone over a number of months to create the app and to ensure it would benefit both readers and vendors. As a web app, any iPhone or Android phone will be able to access the app for free.
“We’re inspired by the way Megaphone creates economic opportunity for low-income and homeless Vancouverites, and the quality of content in the magazine. Creating the app was a way to support a cause we believe in,” says Denim & Steel co-founder, Todd Sieling.
Denim & Steel have also made the app open source, so other street papers can use it and support their vendors. There are more than 100 street papers around the world, which, like Megaphone, work to help support homeless and low-income people.
“Selling Megaphone has helped increase my quality of life and given me extra money to do things with my daughter,” says Mark Irvine, who sells Megaphone at Commercial and Grant. “The app will help people support me by finding out how they can purchase a copy of the magazine every two weeks.”
The app can be downloaded at: http://find.megaphonemagazine.com.