Hernando Coffee News


The "Original" Recession - Buster!

Jean Daum, Founder of Coffee News

by Jean Daum, Coffee News World Head Office

The Coffee News predecessor was a community newspaper I designed in 1982. (Full documentation of results are available to anyone who needs proof). It was designed to kill a very specific recession happening in Charleswood - a bedroom community of Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada), that was on its way to becoming a ghost town.

One in every four stores in its business district were empty and abandoned, with the rest losing money hand over fist and hanging on for dear life. New businesses that could have revitalized the area were notoriously short-lived - some even come and gone within their first month!

To business, Charleswood was sheer poison. Why? It was a bedroom community - no one drove through Charleswood on his way to work, so all businesses depended on residents to shop at their stores. Residents had very little community spirit and were not about to "support" businesses they thought HAD TO BE over-priced, and with less selection than they had been lead to believe was available elsewhere by Charleswood's only community newspaper, Metro One, from St. James which is across the river.

No one from St. James would drive to Charleswood to shop, so Charleswood advertisers were forced to pay for four times the circulation they needed to be able to reach their Charleswood customers, at ten times the cost! In the end, the cost outweighed the return and they stopped advertising. With only flyer advertising able to reach their potential Charleswood customers - at ten times the cost of a newspaper ad, they couldn't afford to advertise and they stopped.

It doesn't take long for a business to lose enough customers and find that it can no longer pay its bills. Then, it's too late to advertise because advertising is a cumulative effect, not a "one ad wonder"!

In the end, businesses in trouble were filling their windows with 50 - 75% off sale signs - hoping for any kind of money coming through their door that would keep their suppliers, and worse, their banker at bay. Being a high-brow community, nothing turned residents off as much as a "sacrifice sale", so in a week or two, we'd notice the "Bailiff Seizure" sign on the door and say to ourselves, "Thank God he's gone". It was depressing to have such people in our community - even if they'd been there for years.

I got shocked out of this general attitude when I was forced by my husband (who was renting the hall for dance lessons) to volunteer as Publicity Chairperson for Varsity View Community Centre. Part of my job was to sell advertising for the newsletter, which forced me to talk to business people in my community. I had to go into stores I had never even entered as a resident.

It never occurred to me the sacrifice these business owners go through just to do business, let alone the horrors of losing everything they own when they fail. I didn't do very well selling ads to support the community centre, but it did convince me that if I didn't do something - no one else was even concerned enough to try.

My newspaper lasted two and a half years and in that time, I was able not only to re-establish 100% thriving occupancy in the Charleswood business community, but I completely reversed the established 80% failure rate of new business to a success rate of 80% with the majority of business expansions in this previously named "poison area" due to the success of new business in the area.

I had also created such a fervor of community spirit that all three community centers that were previously dying from a lack of support had to greatly expand their existing facilities.

My newspaper died a very undeserving death, at the hands of the post office which decided my profits from inserts, which were subsidizing my ad rates, was now going to be 60% of my costs. I lost everything I owned and loved trying to keep the newspaper going until the final decision from the post office - 3 months later and $25,000 in debt.

It took me years to recover personally, but if you notice, Coffee News is not delivered to homes. I had to find a new delivery source and restaurants were perfect since the only people who go there are people with money. Add in affordable ad rates - perfect for new businesses with little money to spend - and all the rest is history.

Coffee News is the ULTIMATE RECESSION BUSTER, but this time everybody - even me - is in the black. It's great to be a volunteer working towards something that will change the lives of hundreds of people. And it's even better when all your hopes and dreams are multiplied by the number of people who are doing the same in their OWN neighborhoods - making their own mark in history.

After all, is not the price of being born, to leave the world a better place for having been?

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