When Garry Gordon anticipates success, he’s usually right. In 1966, he was in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (CAN), selling advertising for Thomson Newspapers. He was transferred to Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Ontario, but wanted to get to Guelph, 879 km (545 miles) away. He knew Guelph was where he would meet his future wife, her name would be Patricia, and she would have blonde hair. He requested a transfer. On one of his first sales calls in Guelph, he spotted a beautiful blonde woman behind the jewelry counter at a department store. He asked about her and learned that her name was Patricia. For several weeks, Garry repeatedly asked his sales contact for Patricia’s phone number. When his contact finally relented and gave it to Garry, he and Patricia went on a date, were engaged three weeks later, and in three more months were married. They are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
“I was in Guelph for ten months,” says Garry, “long enough to meet her, get engaged, get married, and then I got transferred into home office.” After leaving Nanaimo, BC, Garry remained with Thomson Newspapers for 35 years in Fort William, Guelph, Toronto, Cambridge and Pembroke, Ontario; Yorkton, Saskatchewan; and finally back to Ontario as publisher of the Trenton Trentonian. When he finally retired, he says, “I stayed retired for a year, but was depressed. My wife said, ‘Why don’t you go out and start your own business?’ ”
So he did. That business was a Coffee News® franchise. His years with newspapers put him in an ideal position to promote Coffee News®. “Being publisher of the local paper opened a lot of doors for me,” he says. These days, Garry publishes two editions of Coffee News®, one in Belleville-Prince Edward and the other in Quinte West. And now he is about to open a third to serve Cobourg and Port Hope.
He does the production himself through his company, Impressions Publishing Inc. “I do the ad creation, make copy changes, and upload the pdf files to a printer. I don’t charge my clients for creating an ad. That’s a free service from me. And copy changes are free because I can do all the production myself.”
His Coffee News® operation is a one-man shop, except for distribution. His two current drivers have been with him for six years. “I’m in about 285 locations and that would take me two days to do,” he says. “I feel my time is better spent selling than distributing.”
Garry had bought the Belleville edition when its previous publisher was transferred to Winnipeg. “Two months later, I started the Quinte West edition. I started out with 28 ads sold in the very first edition. Here I am, twelve years later, about to expand again, and my wife wants me to retire again.” But he’s in no rush. “I enjoy it,” he says. “It’s something to do. I’m up at six in the morning. I’m out on the street by 8:30, and I work until one o’clock in the afternoon.”
About six advertisers call him each week. “It’s very seldom that I ever have to go out and make a sales call,” he says. For two-and-a-half recent years, both of his current editions were sold out and he had a list of twenty advertisers waiting to get in. He spoke at a Coffee News® Conference in 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona, about the importance of two elements that Coffee News® creator Jean Daum incorporated into the publication: What’s Happening and the Contest.
“I do believe the What’s Happening section is one of the reasons I’ve been as successful as I’ve been,” says Garry, noting that he learned to edit in the newspaper business. Now he makes room for as many listings as possible. “I try to get six or seven items in each week.”
For the Contest, he receives about 250 entries a month in his two editions, via his website, by email, and by post. If they’re driving past his house in Trenton, readers even drop them (minus a postage stamp) in his mailbox. “For everyone who enters the contest, I swear there are 25 people who find that little guy every week but don’t enter.” Garry gives away three $50 gift certificates to a local live theatre. “It’s very popular. I say to them, ‘You’re not going to win if you don’t enter.’ ”
His Impressions Publishing Inc. also publishes a Chamber of Commerce business directory and a bi-weekly television guide that sells in local grocery and drug stores. Garry personally distributes the television guide in a single morning every other week.
“Even with all that I do, it’s really only part time,” he says. “In the summertime, I golf every Monday afternoon, Wednesday afternoon, and Friday afternoon. I like my golf!”