By Jerry Lips
I’ve been fascinated by Dean Singleton and his steady rise in the newspaper world. His ability to attract some very smart people, putting himself in the right place at the right time, his resilience and his dynamic perspective, along with his recent billion dollar newspaper acquisition, has taken him from seventh to the country’s fourth largest newspaper media mogul.
Like Dean, when I was a young boy, I would hang out at my hometown newspaper. At age 12, I applied for a newspaper route; the Daily Plainsman in Huron, S.D., had a circulation of about 5,000. The circulation director was from Chicago; he informed me that although there were no routes open at that time, he wanted to offer me an even better opportunity—an opportunity to make even more money than a neighborhood route. I would be the exclusive street hawker. He said, “It works in Chicago and there’s no reason it shouldn’t work in Huron.” The route boys were charged 3 cents per copy and collected 5 cents, but I could buy copies for 2 cents since I had to create my own market.
It didn’t take long to find that bars and restaurants were great places to get a dime for my 2-cent newspapers, giving me a fivefold yield per paper over the boys with routes, and my work was never boring. Some hospital patients would fork over a quarter and say, “Keep the change”; some happy bar patrons would flip me “half a rock.” It was a great lesson in price elasticity, market segmentation and yield.
Two years later when I moved to Sioux Falls, I hit the streets chanting, “Argus Leader, Paper, Ten Cents!” An added shoeshine kit soon accompanied me into the Elbow Room Bar, Brass Rail Bar, Rainbow Bar and other favorite hangouts of expensive boots. Earning 20 dollars for a couple hours of sales experience each day after school enabled me to plop down $440 cash at Storm’s Cycle Shop for a new 1959 Cushman Eagle. Mrs. Storm wasn’t sure if she could sell a scooter to a 14-year-old with no driver’s license.
I guess the newspaper business got in my blood at an early age, and until I can buy one of those beautiful Falcon Jets like Dean is now flying, I’ll have to be happy selling jets to media moguls and other interesting people at our Saab Business Aircraft & Jet Previews and through the beautiful, full-color advertising in Airport Journals.