Saturday July 13, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- The publication founded to showcase local entertainment is packing up shop and moving across the river.

Cider Mag operated out of a storefront in The Square for about a year, after operating in the Bellows Falls Waypoint Center for an identical length of time, and editor-in-chief/publisher Brian Joy said the time has come to uproot and start working out of Keene, N.H. He said Monday he and some of his employees live there, and the move will make life a lot easier, as the company uses only about one-fifth of its space at 7 The Square.

Cider Mag, which recently published its 33rd issue and operates entirely on advertising revenue, used to distribute tabloid publications throughout the area but switched to a completely digital format two months ago.

"Business has been really good. People have really taken to it and we're having a lot of fun with it," he said. "Our advertisers have been really understanding. It's not just local people reading it spontaneously at bars or restaurants."

Joy said he contacted all Cider Mag's advertisers and explained why the format was becoming digitized and why the business itself is moving over the bridge. He said print journalism is a dying medium and more and more people get their news and information online.

"What it comes down to is we really want to focus on all of Vermont and New Hampshire and not just southern Vermont and western New Hampshire, which is where we were available," he said.


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"We're covering bands and businesses and artists from all over Vermont every month and we were reaching just one-fourth of the two states."

He said if he wanted to reach a wider audience more regularly, the options were to increase printing six-fold or eliminate the physical publication and go digital.

Joy said the new digital format will come with different updates over the next 10 weeks or so. He said next week will yield the company's Cider Blog, on which all its writers will have the opportunity to write about the events they cover on a weekly basis instead of a monthly one. He said if one of his writers attends a concert on a Saturday night, they can blog about it the next day.

Cider Mag also plans to strengthen its YouTube presence. Joy said there will soon be YouTube channel and a FACT TV television spot called Cider Mag TV, which will feature a web series known as Line By Line. The series, Joy said, will consist of sit-down interviews with local bands. The first featured band will be Jatoba, from Brattleboro.

The company got its start thanks in part to money from the Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund, which lends money to people opening businesses in the town and gets replenished with the interest it charges. Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh said the loan was for $12,000 and Cider Mag has a remaining balance of about $10,000.

Even though the business is relocating, Walsh said it is obligated to pay back the borrowed money, which Joy said he has every intention of doing. He said he has made his loan payments on time since he started Cider Mag and that will not change.

Walsh said it is disappointing to see the business leave The Square, as it created some nice diversity in the downtown area, but he is happy to know it will still produce its content.

"It filled a gap and met a need that was here," he said Monday. "It's a great publication that provides a service and a lot of good information for people."

He said the storefront at 7 The Square is a wonderful piece of real estate and it won't be long before another business moves into it.

Joy said he started Cider Mag because he grew tired of hearing people complain there was nothing to do in the area. He wanted people to realize Vermont and New Hampshire have great art and entertainment scenes filled with talent.

He said he hopes people understand Cider Mag will still be heavily associated with Bellows Falls, even though the storefront is moving.

He said the company will still be involved with some upcoming fundraisers and recently generated $4,000 for Team Superhero, which he said is a Bellows Falls-based fundraising team for the American Cancer Society.

"It was scary but exciting. When you change your business -- whether its a sandwich shop or a magazine or whatever you are -- you don't know how your fans are going to react," he said, adding that fans and advertisers are what keep his product alive.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.