Think of it as a call to action.
If you’re one of the thousands of people who pick up your monthly copy of CITY at one of our hundreds of newsstands, chances are the person who delivered your magazine this month also took part in their production.
In an effort to counter a distribution crisis, CITY staff members – from editors and writers to designers and salespeople – stepped up to personally deliver around 20,000 copies of the magazine’s February and March editions to nearly 400 stops.
The team focused on one goal: getting copies into your hands before the first of the month. It might sound simple enough, but it hadn’t happened more often than any of us would like to admit.
Over the past few months, we have often been reminded of this by readers asking us where their magazine is and by our own experiences of visiting newsstands to find them empty or late stocked.
When CITY was a weekly, it had enjoyed years of quality service from a loyal distributor. But just weeks before CITY returned to newsstands as a monthly magazine in September 2020 after a pandemic-induced publication hiatus, that distributor folded.
We had to scramble to find a new distributor in the midst of a pandemic marked by government shutdowns and labor shortages that were reaching epic proportions.
An option has emerged in a company that specializes in delivering newspapers locally and beyond. We signed a contract with this company and breathed a sigh of relief. But our relief slowly turned to distress, and eventually to torment, when it became clear that our distributor could not meet the terms of our contract.
Frustrated and tired, we cut ties with the company in January and took matters into our own hands. Literally.
The staff behind the signatures you know and trust to provide you with timely and thought-provoking coverage of our community’s news, arts and culture have packed the trunks of their vehicles with sheaves of magazines and have hit the road – in a blizzard.
I’ve always been proud of CITY, but I don’t think I’ve been prouder than I was then. The effort lasted two days a month and was an exercise in duty, humility and introspection.
The best part was meeting the small business owners who host CITY Newsstands and seeing how thrilled so many of them and their customers were to see us – not just the magazine, but the people behind it.
“Delivering the magazines has given me the opportunity to interact with the people and places that have supported us and helped us get in touch with readers,” said Editor-in-chief Jeremy Moule, who has worked for CITY for 15 years. “Not only did I enjoy it, but I learned a little more about our community in the process.”
The highlight for Rebecca Rafferty, CITY’s life and culture editor, walked into the downtown bus station with a pack of magazines and was greeted by a man who blurted out, “Thank God! My phone is dead.
Personal editor Gino Fanelli reluctantly went into paperboy mode, but returned to the office after a day on the road, beaming with the warm greetings he received.
“I could see firsthand how much we resonate in this city, how many people were thrilled to see me with a stack of magazines,” Fanelli said. “It gave me a lot of hope that we are doing a good job and making a difference.”
WANTED: UNKNOWN HEROES
We will continue to deliver the magazine for as long as needed. But we hope to find a permanent solution for our distribution by spring.
The problem now is a national shortage of delivery drivers and couriers. You might not know this if you’ve followed Canada’s “freedom convoys” that have crept into American cities, but truckers are rare.
You can help, however.
If you are looking for a part-time job that allows you to travel around our community for just one or two days a month, we have a job for you.
You can inquire with CITY traffic manager Kate Stathis, who was the driving force behind CITY’s “Operation Paper Route”. She can be reached by phone at (585) 784-3506 or by email at [email protected].
“When the delivery of goods and services goes smoothly, it’s easy to take for granted what we rely on the most,” Stathis said. “I appreciate people who take pride in on-time delivery, especially when a job well done often means it goes virtually unrecognized.”
To those of you who join us, please know that we and the readers of CITY appreciate the work you do.
David Andreatta is the editor of CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].