Atlantic News: Celebrating 50 Years of Resilience in the Face of Digital Revolution
Half a Century of Newsstand History
Atlantic News, a prominent newsstand situated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently celebrated its golden jubilee. Founded by Pat Doherty in 1973, the store has continued to flourish despite the digital revolution that has seen the decline of print media. After Pat’s demise in 1991, the business was taken over in 1998 by Michele Gerrard and her husband Stephen.
The Golden Age of Magazines and the Rise of the Internet
During the period when the Gerrard’s took control of Atlantic News, Halifax was home to eleven major newsstands, including two other independent ones. The 90s are often referred to as the last golden age for magazines, with significant events like the O.J Simpson trial, Princess Diana’s death, and Kurt Cobain’s rise to fame prominently featuring on magazine covers. However, the advent of the internet marked a shift in how people consumed news. Despite this seismic shift, Atlantic News has managed to stay afloat while others have succumbed to the digital wave.
Survival Amidst Digital Disruption
According to Michele Gerrard, the store’s success and longevity can be attributed to a well-managed business model and the value it continues to offer its customers. She firmly believes that the proclamations of print’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. To adapt to changing times, the store has evolved its business strategy. In the early 2000s, Atlantic News formed a partnership with PressReader, a service that permitted them to print on-demand copies of thousands of newspapers globally. The store also started stocking books, increased the sales of works by local artists, and made arrangements to provide copies of The Globe and Mail print edition for its customers in Nova Scotia when it ceased distribution in the area.
Adapting to the Changing Marketplace
Presently, the store’s inventory has reduced from a peak of approximately 5,700 titles to about half that number, influenced by a transforming marketplace and the rise of smartphones and social media. Despite these challenges, Gerrard noted that demand from many customers remained strong, and more people are reverting to print due to screen fatigue. The store also managed to weather the COVID-19 lockdowns and continues to witness history unfold through the pages of the magazines on their newsstand. The Gerrards have experienced significant events like 9/11 and the passing of Queen Elizabeth II unfold right before their eyes.
The Power of Print Media and Business Adaptability
In summary, Atlantic News serves as a testament to the enduring power of print media and the importance of adaptability in business. Despite the challenges posed by the digital revolution and changing consumer habits, the store has managed to maintain relevance and continue serving its loyal customer base. The 50th anniversary of the store is not just a celebration of its longevity but also a tribute to its resilience and adaptability in a rapidly changing media landscape.
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