Hope for calendar sales in the rain

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Re-posted from the Hope in Shadows Blog with permission from Project Director Paul Ryan.

Over the next few months you might see Hope in Shadows vendors sporting new rain-proof bags, warm toques and large blue umbrellas.

The rain is more than annoying for many Vancouverites, but for the Hope in Shadows vendors, it’s more than an inconvenience – it really does affect sales. Vendors don’t have a choice if they want to sell the 2012 calendars as they are almost all sold on the street.

We’ve suspected for years that the rain affects calendar sales. In an effort to understand what was happening, we looked at the calendar sales results over several years and noticed a trend: when the “pineapple express” rain hits Vancouver in November and December (usually several fronts coming in from the Pacific Ocean, one after another causing many days of unrelenting rain), sales of the calendar dip. If the rains come in November, but we have a dryer December, November will be the slow month. If November is mostly dry, but December wet, sales will be slow in December.

The bags were made locally by Common Thread, a non-profit operated by the Kettle Friendship Society, also a location of one of our calendar vendor training workshops. Common Thread creates employment for groups such as newcomers to Canada and Aboriginal communities, and is also based in the Downtown Eastside.

I spoke to Common Thread’s vice-president and co-founder Jenette MacArthur who says the people making the bags were women who, like Hope in Shadows vendors, thrive in a flexible work environment. Melanie Conn, who coordinated the making of the bags says that they were made by people who, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t fit into a formal manufacturing setting. Like Hope in Shadows, Common Thread has an overriding social purpose. “We don’t usually have a customer (such as Hope in Shadows) where we’re so in sync.”

Fairware, who sourced and branded the toques and umbrellas with the Hope in Shadows logo, is a local company dedicated to high standards both environmentally and socially.

The uniform purchase was a team effort. We were very happy to have the financial support of the City of Vancouver and the Betty Averbach Foundation.

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