By: Jennifer Saba
The Evening Post Publishing Co. has come up with one of the most unique (and brazen) names for a magazine: Garden & Gun. For the Charleston, S.C.-based newspaper company, known for the hometown Post and Courier and the Buenos Aires Herald, Garden & Gun represents its first stab at magazine-making. And if all goes well, plans are under way to launch more under its new division Evening Post Magazines. “We feel the future is in niche publications,” says Pierre Manigault, chairman of Evening Post Publishing (which has been in his family for three generations).
Niche indeed: The attention-grabbing title was first the name of a Charleston pub popular in the late 1970s. “It was an eclectic, eccentric, cutting-edge liberal bar for the South,” says Manigault.
However, the similarities between the magazine and the watering hole stop at the name. Based on some of the prototypes, Garden & Gun assumes more the feel of Town & Country than Mother Jones. The emphasis is on sports — the southern staples like duck and quail hunting, but also activities that don’t require a rifle, such as fly-fishing — and there are stories about architecture and natural habitats of the South.
Other newspapers have published local magazines for some time, but lately it seems to be a growing trend. The Boston Globe has launched Design New England: The Magazine for Splendid Homes and Gardens, a glossy mailed to 40,000 high-income individuals in the Boston area. The Detroit Newspaper Partnership created Third Street Magazines, with titles like Strut, Signature, and Home & Design. Freedom Orange County Information, a division of The Orange County (Calif.) Register, publishes Coast, Preferred Destinations, and several others.
Morris Communications has its own magazine division (and even a book division) that publishes Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar, Boat Broker, and Fly Tyer. Jim Currow, Morris’ executive vice president of newspapers, says if the company owns a newspaper in a town, there’s an opportunity to expand: “If someone is going to do a magazine, it might as well be us.” If Morris comes across a magazine it likes, even if it’s already developed, it will snap it up, like Skirt!, another Charleston-based mag that targets female readers. Skirt! has proven so successful ? the 52-page February issue printed on newsprint is stuffed with ads for local retailers ? that Morris is expanding the concept to several other markets.
For Garden & Gun, executives want to capture readers in their 30s and 40s. The first issue is set to launch in April with a controlled circulation of 150,000, as well as projected newsstand sales across the Southeast. Eventually, parts of the Northeast, including upscale ZIP codes in Manhattan, will be sought.
Manigault says the idea for such a magazine came by way of his friend, Editor John Wilson. It didn’t take form until Rebecca Darwin, a former publisher of the New Yorker, moved to Charleston and signed on as publisher of the project. “When I heard about Garden & Gun, I thought this was a great concept,” she says.