Longtime vendors (from left) Vince Broad, Bob Dennis, Richard Morris and Ray Soucy have been hitting the streets for nearly a century between them.
Megaphone's 'Fab Four' have been here since the beginning
Call them the Fab Four.
Collectively, Megaphone Magazine vendors Vince Broad, Bob Dennis, Richard Morris and Ray Soucy have been selling street papers for 95 years.
From politics to poverty, these longtime vendors have seen a lot of changes over the years, and some longevity, too.
“I have had customers who have faithfully bought the paper, if not every issue, most issues, for about 20 years,” says Ray Soucy, who has been selling Megaphone for a quarter-century. “Which is quite gratifying. God bless ’em for that. They’re true-blue customers.”
Soucy likes that his customers, most of them regulars, believe that by contributing to individuals, they can change things for the better. “The people who support us get to know us on a person-to-person, first-name basis and develop a friendly relationship,” he says. Former prime minister Joe Clark, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, late philanthropist Milton Wong and three Order of Canada recipients have been among Soucy’s many loyal customers over the years.
“One thing about selling the street paper is you're treated with a considerable amount of respect,” Soucy says. “Further to that, I’ve met people I would have never met otherwise who are some of the nicest people in the world.”
Richard Morris has been a street paper fixture for 23 years, many of them spent selling Megaphone outside the liquor store at Broadway and Maple Street. This “jazz man” could often be heard before being seen, with the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane wafting out of his boombox while he sold magazines and chatted with seniors.
“Those were most of my customers,” Morris says. “Retirees. But I don’t see too many of those anymore. The cost of living is too high here.”
Morris says customers and businesses have always treated him well, with one security guard on Broadway even watching out for him and escorting him to his post each day.
“I’ve met some very nice people in this city,” Morris says.
Bob Dennis, another vintage vendor who has been selling Megaphone from its beginning and street papers for 25 years, echoes his fellow vendors’ sentiments about customers.
“I enjoy getting out there selling the paper and interacting with friendly people,” Dennis says. “It makes me feel good.”
Dennis brings a well-rounded background to his role, including past experience in restaurants, retail, tourism, security, the resource economy (logging) and more.
When it comes to selling street papers, he just may be the longest-serving vendor in Canada. And he’s kept at it despite struggling with health issues, including anxiety. His secret?
“I consider many of my customers my friends,” he says, adding Megaphone has given him confidence and made him feel supported.
Vince Broad has been selling street papers for 22 years and says “there’s nothing I enjoy more than selling the paper.”
He gets right to the point when it comes to an issue that’s front and centre for many vendors: shelter.
“The only answer to solving the homeless issue is to build more housing,” he says.
For Broad, affordable housing and the ongoing fentanyl overdose crisis top the list of problems that need solutions now.
In the meantime, “my message to readers is that I hope they continue to buy (Megaphone); it really helps the vendors,” Broad says. “Always remember, nobody has it all together, but together we have it all.”
Vince Broad sells Megaphone outside Granville Island's Public Market; look for Bob Dennis at 18th Avenue and Cambie Street; Ray Soucy sells on the corner of Burrard and Hastings; and Richard Morris is near West Fourth and Alma.