Founder of new magazine has single purpose in mind

July 20, 1992|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

When she set out to start a new magazine, Linda Schafer brushed off thoughts of the shaky economy, shrinking advertising budgets and other publications' struggles.

She had a more pressing concern on her mind -- meeting a nice guy.

The attractive, 39-year-old mother of two figured she couldn't be the only single person too busy with work and children to meet anyone. Nor could she be the only one with no inclination to cruise the bars.

But a magazine might work, she decided. So with no background in publishing and only limited business experience, she is launching Singles magazine from her Pasadena home.

Ms. Schafer expects her first issue to hit the newsstands in September, featuring personal ads from men and women with photos and short profiles, stories on travel, sports, health and fitness and question-and-answer columns on relationships and sex.

Recession or no recession, Ms. Schafer figured, single men and women still want to meet and read about other singles and their lifestyles.

She envisions a classy, 60-page, color-cover magazine of "good taste and good quality," one that will eventually include features on singles from around the world.

The idea came, in part, from a Florida magazine called The Bachelor Book, which runs photos of the state's eligible bachelors.

The thought of curling up with the magazine and perusing possible dates appealed to Ms. Schafer, who became a subscriber last November.

"The day I received it, that night I went through it," recalled Ms. Schafer, who was divorced seven years ago. She especially liked the idea of seeing what the men looked like. "I was up the whole night."

But the bachelors lived too far away. She began toying with the idea of starting a "date book" for the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas that would include women, too.

Personal ads that fill sections of Washingtonian and Baltimore magazines, The Sun and The Penny Saver proved to Ms. Schafer how widespread and popular the ads have become. In just one issue of Washingtonian, she counted more than 800 ads.

She figured she could gain an edge in the market by offering more detailed biographical information and photos.

"You know their interests and what kind of a person they're looking for," Ms. Schafer said of personal ad dates. "You can get a pretty good feel for what they're like."

Since getting an equity loan on her house earlier this year, Ms. Schafer has devoted at least several hours a day to her dream of starting Singles.

After working all day as an office manager for Continental Equipment Inc., a Baltimore exporting company, she makes dinner and helps her children with homework before settling into her office.

Despite advice that the economy and competition will kill the magazine -- if its publisher doesn't run out of money first -- Ms. Schaefer has pressed ahead, lining up her first issue's articles and hiring a distributor, an art designer and writers.

She also has enlisted help from a friend with magazine experience who will layout pages and arrange for a printer. And she's made the rounds at grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores asking managers to carry her magazine. Next, she'll focus on selling ads.

Even if Singles proves to be just a flash in the pan, "I'd be sorry if I didn't pursue it," Ms. Schafer said. "It's been a lot of fun."

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