Friday, March 14, 2008

Like old times

I've been making the rounds with our advertising sales team the last couple of months. It's more for my benefit than theirs, as I reacquaint myself with people I haven't seen in a while and introduce myself to those I've never met.

Just about everyone is surprised to see me. Most think I'm checking up on my employee's work. Not so. I want to help them make a sale if I can. And I want to hear what people are saying about the newspaper, the economy, politics ... anything.

It can be uncomfortable, as was the case yesterday when one merchant told me she wasn't sure she wanted to spend any more money with us because of news coverage she disliked. I obviously prefer not to get that kind of information, but I do welcome the opportunity to confront it. I like to remind businessmen and women that the reason they should advertise with the Freeman is because it's effective and it brings customers to their establishments. If you aren't getting good results from Freeman advertising, you ought to try something else. But if the Freeman works for you, your dismay with news stories or editorial points of view or whatever shouldn't dissuade you. It's not good business.

Anyway, most of my conversations have been entertaining, particularly the one I recently had when we stopped off at Van Gordon and Co., an office supplies store in the heart of Catskill.

Tom Thornton runs the place and he lit up when he realized it was me.

"I called you once," he said.

I didn't remember. Then I did.

Tom's family has run the Orpheum Theater in Saugerties for years. He called one day to ask why the one movie review we publish each week invariably was negative. Tough to sell tickets, you see.

We talked for nearly a half-hour about the quality of movies these days. He bemoaned the kind of films Hollywood is turning out -- and choosing to honor with Oscar nominations. Heck, the only "upbeat" nominee for Best Picture was "Juno", and that was about teen pregnancy.

Anyway, if you want a throwback to a different era, when you strolled along a village's main drag, saying hello to and chatting with the familiar people behind the counters, check in with Tom. It'll seem like old times.
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