In the nearly two years since I came aboard the Spirit, one of my main goals has been to create a newspaper of the highest possible quality and then to make sure it was available to as many readers as possible.
These days, the Spirit is sold in many new outlets in Jefferson County and also at a growing number of stores in Berkeley County.
But the expansion hasn’t been all smooth sailing.
The reality is, the Spirit is only one of a number of newspapers and news periodicals being published and distributed in the region. And, as I’ve seen every week, newspaper distribution can prove surprisingly cut-throat.
Because we are only one of many, the Spirit must share what is often limited newsstand space with area dailies and weeklies as well as with much larger newspapers, like the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and it’s easy to get crowded out of a field as large as that.
It’s often no surprise to see last week’s copy of the Spirit buried under a pile of other weeklies or a stack of advertising fliers and, just as often, I’ve seen the Spirit moved by other publications’ delivery employees from one shelf to a much less prominent shelf. Because we are a weekly, we’re often at the mercy of daily papers’ delivery people, who are on site at the retail locations we share each and every day (the Spirit is delivered on Wednesdays) and are able to place that day’s paper in the most visible spot. More than once, we’ve even discovered dozens of Spirits having been tossed out, apparently by a deliveryman intent on making more room for his publication.
In many locations, shelves are marked by placeholders and many publications often provide their own newspapers stands. Sometimes that’s about as effective as placing a plastic lawn chair on a parking space you’ve just cleared of snow.
With our regular delivery driver Rob Smith on vacation last week, I filled in and had the opportunity to see firsthand just how much work is involved in getting our paper out each week and also what pitfalls exist in selling the Spirit — those caused by other publications, but also by newspaper racks not being placed in the most visible locations.
If for some reason you cannot find our paper at the stores where you shop regularly, please take a moment to talk with a manager. It may be that the paper is for sale but hidden away; if not, it may be possible to add the store to our route.
Another option, available weekdays during regular business hours, is to stop in at our office at 114 N. Charles St. in Charles Town. We’re always happy to sell you a copy of the current edition of the paper and if you missed a week, we often can sell you a back issue as well.
Let me say this: It’s immensely satisfying to see how the Spirit’s circulation numbers have risen since late 2011 when we began beefing up the content of our news, lifestyle, editorial and other pages. We appreciate each of you for reading each week and for continuing to recommend the new Spirit to your friends.
– Robert Snyder