Frederick Co. entrepreneur hatches magazine for the everyday man

March 29, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Not many mail carriers deliver their own magazine, but Larry Riggles does.

The 43-year-old publishes Everyday Men, a general readership magazine aimed at hard-working, white- and blue-collar men with a passion for sports, hobbies and nostalgia. He can claim at least a few subscribers along his Frederick mail route.

"I've always been amazed at the number of magazines out there," Mr. Riggles says. "There are more magazines for women than men. Magazines aimed at men are all single topic -- sports, fishing, hunting or whatever. I've always wondered why men don't have a general magazine."

After pondering the question for two years, Mr. Riggles, father of four, launched his magazine with $15,000 from the family savings. The first edition of the glossy, 32-page magazine came off the presses on New Year's Eve. The second edition is due in June.

"The response has been pretty good so far," Mr. Riggles says. "I think it's something a lot of men can relate to. It's not your Madison Avenue or Hollywood type magazine. It's meant to appeal to everybody from small-city lawyers to construction workers."

The first edition features profiles on an ice cream parlor owner, a Frederick antique and baseball card dealer, and a construction worker who doubles as a waiter. A local podiatrist wrote a column, and several men were pictured at work and at play in a spread called "A Moment in Time for Everyday Men."

"I've been in contact with the public for 20 years," Mr. Rigglessays. "I've found amazing stories. Most men have a life outside their occupation. Their life is their hobbies."

Mr. Riggles doesn't do any writing. He contracts with writers (at 5 cents a word) and photographers for content and salespeople to sell advertising. A graphics firm designs the magazine. Everyday Men is purely an investment for Mr. Riggles.

His wife, Maureen, helps juggle business matters. They work from the basement of their Libertytown home. The magazine is printed in Frederick.

"I don't think I'll ever get rich, but I'd like to live a little more comfortably," Mr. Riggles says.

Experts say the odds of finding success are slim.

"We hope any person who starts a magazine is successful," says Michael Pashby, senior vice president of the Magazine Publishers of America. "In recent times, the success rate of start-ups is relatively poor."

Of the 700 magazines introduced each year, about half fold within a year, says Samir Husni, head of the magazine program at the University of Mississippi. Mr. Husni also publishes an annual guide to consumer magazines.

"Three out of 10 magazines fold in four years," Mr. Husni says. "About 80 percent of new magazines are started by individual entrepreneurs seeking fame or the idea of liberty. It's the cheapest media to enter."

Competition is fierce. There are 3,600 general-consumer magazines and 11,000 trade magazines vying for readership, he says. Include newspapers and other periodicals and the number climbs to 66,000.

By targeting a general readership and selling Everyday Men for $1.90 a copy, Mr. Riggles is bucking two trends: higher-priced magazines and content specialization. The average price of a magazine is $4.

"Successful magazines deliver content you cannot find in other places," Mr. Husni says. "Those that fail usually provide redundant information. Most magazines are consumer-driven, and if they don't deliver the goods for $4 or $5, they won't make it."

Mid-State Distributors of Chambersburg, Pa., delivered some 2,500 copies of Everyday Men to grocery stores, newsstands and drugstores in Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties and Adams and York counties in Pennsylvania, says general manager Robert Hixon.

"We're always looking for something different from the standard titles we have," Mr. Hixon says. "His magazine may have salability but the first issue is always tough to sell."

Overall, Mr. Riggles circulated some 5,000 copies of Everyday Men, dropping off complimentary copies in barbershops and doctors' offices. He is hoping to double distribution for the second edition.

That issue will dabble in more nostalgia, including a feature on a Coca-Cola collection "that would make the museum in Atlanta blush," he says. Future editions will include stories about Civil War re-enactors and collectors and sports nostalgia. Mr. Riggles doubts he'll ever include stories about professional athletes.

Among the magazine's $6-a-year subscribers is David Clements, a Frederick sales representative who lives on Mr. Riggles' postal route.

"I think it's a good idea and that he is going after a market segment that nobody else has really gone after," says Mr. Clements.

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