“Be Careful What You Wish For…”

You know the Chinese adage, “Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it.”

When, as a fifth year high school English teacher, I was searching for my next career, I thought I wanted to own a small town weekly newspaper in Iowa. I spent a summer working and filling in for Jack Maher, West Branch’s softer version of television’s Lou Grant.

Jack was the owner, publisher, editor, reporter, photographer, typesetter, advertising salesman and circulation manager of the West Branch Times. After a lifetime spent in the newspaper business, Jack was looking forward to retirement and, like most owners of small town weeklies, his version of a 401k plan was whatever he could get by selling the Times.

And so I spent a summer attending school board meetings, interviewing town council members, chasing fire trucks, covering girls’ softball games, selling ads and writing obituaries.

Jack had a few of his own rules for journalism. “Everybody should be on the front page at some time in their lives,” he would declare, “even if it’s just their obituary.” So, we printed obituaries on the front page.

“Parentheses are a sign of lazy writing,” he also loved to point out. “Rewrite it until you don’t need the parentheses.” (He was right.)

By the end of the summer of 1977 I knew I was not yet ready to settle into the life of a small town newspaper publisher.

The dream must have still lurked somewhere in the recesses of my mind, for here I am, 35 years later, the publisher, editor, reporter, photographer, typesetter, advertising salesman and circulation manager of a small town weekly.

A computer screen has replaced the newsprint, digital has taken the place of the darkroom, layout is done with a keypad, and my small town is our Arts & Crafts community, spread from San Diego, California to Bangor, Maine.

ArtsandCraftsCollector.com will soon be three years old, having been launched on New Year’s Day in 2010. That will be a critical birthday for us, as I always said I would stick with this venture for three years before deciding if it was worth the investment of money, time and that precious commodity – energy.

We have a small but loyal group of advertisers, but they, like those businesses who have not yet decided to promote their products here, need to see our numbers grow. Yes, we could take the easy way out and let Google sell our ads, but I really do not want to see jiggling “Reduce Your Belly Fat” ads next to a story on Artus van Briggle.

Right now our small town weekly has about 23,632 individual readers, no small feat for a niche publication. I am not convinced, however, that there are only 23,632 people interested in some facet of the Arts & Crafts movement, from early Stickley furniture to Paul Katrich’s new luster glazed art pottery.

But I have to prove that to our present and potential advertisers.

And so, if you value this free publication, I have a small favor to ask.

Right now, scroll through your email address book and send this week’s edition of ArtsandCraftsCollector.com to anyone you think would enjoy reading it. If they already have found us, no problem. If not, they just might come back on their own.

And when you are ready to make a purchase, support those businesses which support ArtsandCraftsCollector.com. You will see their display ads on the right, and their business listings in the various categories to the left. Do your shopping right here from the cool comfort of your home, and help keep not just this website, but the Arts & Crafts movement, alive and healthy.

Many thanks!

Until next Monday,

Have a great week.


“Tell me what you like, and I’ll tell you what you are.” – John Ruskin

“Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness.” – John Ruskin