Garden & Gun gets another shot

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When a magazine is teetering on the edge and then gets whacked by the recession of a lifetime, one can understand why it may have to close down. But the upscale southern lifestyle magazine, Garden & Gun was flying high, with circulation and advertising soaring. As several people in my office can tell you, lots of people subscribe to it — including my wife and I.

According to Foliomag.com:

“Launched in 2007, Garden & Gun carries a total circulation of 220,000, including 160,000 paid subscribers. According to Darwin, the magazine saw ad revenue soar 230 percent in 2008 compared to 2007.

Unfortunately, the majority owner of the magazine, the Charleston S.C. newspaper publishing company, Evening Post Publishers Co., decided to pull out of its five-year commitment to the venture due to economic problems related to its newspaper operation — and unrelated to the magazine.

After a couple of months that saw several interested parties look at the property, an inside group including the publisher and the Evening Post’s chairmon of the board, decided to create a new entity to acquire the publication. Obvious questions: If the Evening Post would pull out of a contract prematurely, why would its chairman be a good partner? Where is the staff? If the magazine shuttered January 31, were the employees dismissed then?

  • The halo of the newspaper troubles obscures the incredible growth the magazine has had, doesn’t it. Here, in the middle of the great print/digital debate, is a hot launch with a fresh voice that serves a targeted market. Sounds like a recipe for success, doesn’t it? An wise old publisher (Bill Ziff) once told me that magazines have half-lives and you don’t want to own them too long or put to much debt on them. I haven’t followed his advice (chagrin), but it seems to play out that way pretty frequently.