I usually approach birthdays with mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m grateful I’ve lived as long and as well as I have. On the other hand, I can’t help shaking my head in disbelief over how old I’ve become.
The same holds true for the third birthday of The Coastal Star. Our heads are spinning a bit that we’ve survived this long — and yet we’re excited to pop a cork to celebrate our success.
We know we’d done our research and had a solid business plan going into the first edition. But we embarked on our mission in the darkest economy in decades. It was an extraordinary challenge.
Today we are an award-winning paper, growing larger and better each month. Advertisers turn to us in ever increasing numbers. In fact, advertising revenue has increased 30 percent every year.
If the story were to be told about the past three years, the narrative would go something like this: middle-aged married couple take modest buyouts from major media companies, take a home equity line on their 1956 Ocean Ridge home and contact journalism friends about starting an old fashioned community newspaper. Most think we are crazy, but agree to give it a shot.
We then go looking for an advertising sales person — and the stars align again. We contact long-time friend and co-worker Chris Bellard and discover she is available and interested in working with us. Those who have worked with Chris know her personality and expertise are a perfect match for our publication. She continues to build and manage a rockin’ sales team that works to find creative solutions for our local advertisers.
About that same time we contact friends and former co-workers Carolyn and Price Patton about lending a hand. From championing The Coastal Star in the community to editing and delivering papers, they too become an element of our success.
Then, after a year of producing the paper from our kitchen and a warehouse, office space becomes available in an old dry cleaning shop and we move into a space on A1A.
We begin hearing from the folks in South Palm Beach and from residents of Highland Beach and Boca Raton. So, we spread our wings and expand our reporting and distribution into those areas — creating a separate edition for our southern neighbors.
During this same time period, we launch a second section — Coastal Life. This allows us to maximize our press capacity during season and focus some features on “all the comforts of home,” — an area embraced by many of our advertisers.
We aren’t planning any further expansion this year. Thank goodness! But we are happy to announce a revamped look for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper, and in December look for an expanded, stand-alone Holiday Shopping Guide.
And new this month is our Health & Harmony column exploring local trends and businesses that focus on bettering our mental and physical health.
And we all need a little of that as we grow older, right?
Happy Birthday, Coastal Star
Mary Kate Leming — Editor