Looking for a social conscience

By Rhonda Dredge

These days everyone likes to advertise their differences including Marcus Dixon, the Big Issue seller in Flinders Lane, who makes up a little riff about the magazine to amuse buyers.

In early December that riff got Mr Dixon into trouble when a tourist misunderstood his intentions and complained to the Big Issue office, leading to his suspension for two weeks.

The street felt empty during December despite the Christmas cheer. There was no-one to catch your eye on the corner of Degraves St as you rushed past.

Marcus has occupied the same spot for 14 years. The enterprising salesman convinces seven people an hour that the magazine is a good buy. Once he has sold you an issue, he never forgets your face.

“I’ve rented a flat in Swanston St,” he told CBD News before he disappeared.

On the day he was due to return, another vendor was standing in his place. “Marcus will be back on Monday,” the new vendor said. “He’s just taking a break.”

At the vendor support office in Donkey Wheel House, a spokeswoman declined to go into details. “He’s very popular,” she said. “Every day people call and ask how he’s going.”

Nearby vendors are also big fans of the amusing Mr Dixon. James Mission at Crampler has coffee with the seller regularly. “I guarantee that no vendors or shop owners have complained,” he said.

At Big Issue head office in Collins St, a spokeswoman suggested Mr Dixon had breached “a code of conduct” and she was unwilling to “share personal information”.

Come January and Mr Dixon has been seen back on the street but he has yet to resume his full-time position.

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