Vendor Profile: Bob Dennis is Vancouver’s 2017 Vendor of the Year
Canada’s longest serving street vendor
With 25 years under his belt selling street papers, Vancouver vendor Bob Dennis may be the longest serving vendor not just in Vancouver, but across Canada too.
He’s been selling street papers in Cambie Village for many of those years, building community and long-lasting friendships.
“I share meals with them and they ask about my day,” he says. “Some were very concerned the year I lost my Dad. That was a very tough year for me.
“I consider many of my customers friends.”
The first street paper he sold in Vancouver was Spare Change. “I started selling Megaphone in May 2008,” he says. “I thought I’d give it a try, selling street papers, because I had selling experience.”
But taking the plunge to start selling papers on the street corner wasn’t an easy decision for Bob, not only dealing with health issues including anxiety.
“I suffer from anxiety, but selling Megaphone helps keep my mind off those distractions,” he says. “I also used to be very shy but selling Megaphone has given me confidence and made me feel supported.”
The vendor of the year award was created to identify and recognize vendors who go the extra mile in building community and connections on the corners they sell Megaphone. They are nominated by the community and staff and then voted for by their peers. Despite Bob’s long history with Megaphone, he was still surprised he won this year.
“I didn’t think I’d get it,” he says. “It felt really good.
“Winning vendor of the year is really important to me, it makes me really happy and keeps my confidence up and going.”
Bob accepted his award at Megaphone’s annual breakfast in early December. He said he was feeling shy about going up on stage for his speech but in the end was really proud to have the opportunity. Many people from his community were present to hear him speak and lend their support.
“It was nice,” he says. “I broke down when I said that my Dad would be proud of me today.”
As for his friends and customers, they’ve been telling him that he not only deserves the award but it’s a long time coming, Bob says.
“To my customers, I just thank you for buying Megaphone from me all these years or even just recently,” he says.
Bob Dennis sells outside Choices, at Cambie and West 19th Ave., in Cambie Village. His usual hours are from Monday to Friday 3 to 6 p.m., Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 2 to 5 p.m. Photo by Priyanka Roy.