Terri Walker and Brian Kaplan are giving folks something to talk about.
The Sumner residents are the names behind Uptown Coffee News, a weekly publication they distribute to three regions: the Puyallup Valley, Puyallup South Hill and Sumner, Bonney Lake and Orting. It is found in restaurants, coffee stands, doctors’ offices and hotels.
Each one carries trivia, short stories, jokes and miscellaneous conversation starters, all free to readers and advertiser-supported through local merchants.
The franchise is part of Maine-based Coffee News USA, part of an even larger corporation headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with an international distribution of 8.2 million publications.
“Coffee News carries generic content so it’s written in multiple languages,” Kaplan explained. It is also published in 12 countries – including New Zealand and Canada – and appears in South America and Europe. Nationally, 900 Coffee News publications carry the editorial content. In Washington it is read from Chehalis to Seattle.
Walker and Kaplan first heard about the business opportunity while networking.
“The previous owner was an ambassador in the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan said he enjoys putting Uptown Coffee News together because it gives him a chance to get to know local merchants and suggest ways to increase their revenues through advertising.
“Sixty percent of our advertisers have been with us for two years or longer,” he said.
Making his job all the more interesting is the fact that the company will only accept one advertiser per business category.
“We work with high-quality businesses,” he said.
The Walker-Kaplan team distributes 6,000 papers per week and even with a downed economy, they’re seeing positive results with an increase in distribution partners. Yet, persuading merchants to advertise often takes some doing.
“The strong will survive,” he said. “Small businesses have got to market. Still, even in a downturn we’ve had a 4 percent growth.”
Not only that – readership has expanded as well.
“We’ve increased our distribution by 63 percent since January because our readership went up,” Walker said. She added that placing the publication where people congregate seems to be a plus. “Our paper can be found in any place where you have to sit.”
Uptown Coffee News has gained a loyal following and it’s not uncommon for Kaplan or Walker to hear from readers who picked up a copy while on their travels.
With its popularity growing, Walker and Kaplan are now expanding to three new markets — including Buckley, Kaplan said.
“That’s the beauty of the paper – it’s the brown paper that’s read everywhere,” he said.
Uptown Coffee News is at 5001 Parker Rd. E. in Sumner and is available by appointment only. The phone number is 253-863-6619 and its Web site is www.uptowncoffeenews.net.