Pressure is mounting on Sheffield’s Waitrose supermarket to reinstate a Big Issue seller barred from operating on its premises as a petition set up by supporters closes in on 1,500 signatures.
Andy Ross was told to leave his pitch outside the store on Ecclesall Road, where he had worked for several years, after the retailer said it received a series of complaints from shoppers.
The Big Issue is currently finding Andy a new spot to work from elsewhere in the city, however protester Nicola Hollings said she plans to hand the petition over at the supermarket this week in a bid to force a rethink.
“What is overwhelming is the sheer number of very positive comments about Andy’s positive attitude, friendliness and helpfulness when selling the Big Issue outside Waitrose,” said Nicola.
“Surely the management must now think again.”
A spokesman for Waitrose said another seller would be ‘welcome’ at Ecclesall Road.
“We are very supportive of the work of The Big Issue and had welcomed Andy on our site for many years, but for a number of reasons this is unfortunately no longer possible and we agreed with the Big Issue that he work in another area,” he said. “We would welcome another Big Issue vendor in the future.”
In 2011 Andy was told to offer the publication only at the store’s exit, rather than the entrance, amid allegations of ‘aggressive’ sales tactics.
Fay Selvan, the Big Issue’s chief executive, said it had been sent ‘no complaints from the public’ about Andy, but added: “This pitch is on private land, and the decision is ultimately Waitrose’s.”