Valley Voice Ltd. publishes the Valley Voice regional community newspaper, an independent, family-owned newspaper – quite an anomaly today. The biweekly newspaper is highly regarded as an independent and has an excellent reputation in the region for its accuracy, objectivity and for presenting all sides of the issues. Community members in our coverage area cherish the fact that the Valley Voice is an independent, and not owned by a large company like most newspapers today.
Area & Circulation
The Valley Voice covers the news of the Slocan Valley, Arrow Lakes Valley and North Kootenay Lake Valley in the West Kootenay region of BC. The Valley Voice is delivered free of charge to every residential mailbox in the three valleys, and dropped off at businesses throughout the coverage area and in Nelson. Total circulation is 7600. The paper is well loved and well read, especially the Voices from the Valleys (letters to the editor) section.
The majority of the revenue comes from advertising sales. We also offer subscriptions: paper subscriptions, esubscriptions (a pdf file of the paper in your inbox), and voluntary subscriptions (a contribution from local residents to cover the cost of free delivery). We also offer a flyer service. The Valley Voice has produced specialty tourism publications from time to time which generate revenue from advertising sales.
The paper started up in December 1992 with Bonnie Greensword as publisher/ owner. Dan Nicholson and Jan Mc-Murray bought the paper from Bonnie in February 2003. Valley Voice Ltd. is a corporation under the Business Corpo-rations Act as of September 17, 1996. Dan Nicholson and Jan McMurray are the sole shareholders. The shares of the company are for sale for $150,000. Assets that come with the shares include computer equipment, a vehicle, newspa-per archives, business contacts, and an established bookkeeping system. The building housing the business is for sale for $150,000. The business and the building can be sold together or separately.
The building on the main street of New Denver at 406 Sixth Avenue is 20’ wide x 55’ long (1100 square feet). It has a front office and a large back room, archives room, kitchen, and washroom. The building is heated and cooled by a heat pump. The building was very well constructed in the 1950s as the Village fire hall. Valley Voice founder Bonnie Greensword bought the building in 1994 or 1995 and renovated the front part of the building into an office space (from the fire truck garage). She re-did the electrical, replaced the roof, and installed insulation at that time. We had the lighting changed to LEDs & installed the heat pump. The exterior of the building was refurbished and painted in 2013. In the C1 Core Commercial zone in New Denver, a combined commercial and residential use is permitted, so the Valley Voice building could be refurbished to include a residence.
The building can be purchased for $150,000 or leased to the new owner at $700 per month.
Operations/Business Products and Services
Advertising sales are done by both Dan and Jan. A good opportunity to sell advertising is on distribution day, when Dan and Jan are delivering the paper to businesses throughout the region. The majority of ad sales are done via email. An email is sent out a few days before each deadline to an email list we have compiled of our customers. We occasionally have special editions to celebrate Minor Hockey Week, Heritage Week, local secondary school graduations, Fire Prevention Week, Small Business Month, Co-op Week, Remembrance Day and Christmas. Ad sales for these special editions are especially busy. In the visitor season, we offer a Visitor Information Page for tourism related businesses. From time to time, we publish a special heritage tourism publication, such as The Sandon Paystreak or The Kaslo Claim.
Customers include all small businesses and local governments in our coverage area, as well as the Columbia Basin Trust, BC Hydro, FortisBC, the Province of BC and the Government of Canada.
The paper is sent to the printer (Cariboo Press in Vernon) on Monday night, and printed Tuesday morning at 6 am. ACE Courier delivers the pallet of 7600 copies to our door on Wednesday, somewhere between noon and 2 pm. We prepare them for distribution in Wednesday & deliver them on Thursday.
One growth opportunity for this business is to create an online newspaper. For many years, we have posted the PDF file of each edition on our website. When we first began doing this, it was innovative! Now, an online newspaper is a very different thing.
Another opportunity would be to go to a weekly schedule. It is currently biweekly. Eliminating Canada Post delivery would be a way to save $1,000 per issue. There may be opportunities to purchase other publications in the region, namely the Arrow Lakes News and the Pennywise.
Another business growth idea is to buy Essay Enterprises, a New Denver business that offers photocopying, scanning, binding, laminating, brochures, and business cards. The Valley Voice could offer these business services from the front office. We offer computer use and internet access currently, by donation.
Mac Pro computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse (for graphic designer)
MacBook Air computer, keyboard, mouse, USB port (for editor)
MacBook Air computer, keyboard, mouse, USB port (for reporter)
MacBook computer, mouse (public computer)
Mac Pro computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse (bookkeeping)
2 filing cabinets
5 desks and office chairs
1 table in front office
3 shelving units in front office
1 large table in back room
3 shelving units in back room
4 VOIP phones
1 Toyota Rav 4 Hybrid (2018)
The Valley Voice is largely operated by the two co-owners. Dan takes care of the production side of the business, ad sales, and distribution. Jan heads up the editorial department, does ad sales, distribution and the bookkeeping. Since April 2020, we have had a full-time reporter through the federal Local Journalism Initiative Program. Before April 2020, editor Jan was the main reporter. We have always had a list of about five stringers who do reporting on a casual basis for us. We also have a proofreader on contract for every production evening. Once every two weeks, we have two people come in to prepare the newspapers for distribution. So currently, there are three of us who work full-time, and about seven people who work for us on a casual basis.
The Arrow Lakes News (a Black Press paper in Nakusp) and the Pennywise (an independent shopper based in Kaslo but distributed throughout the region) are our two biggest competitors. The Arrow Lakes News has been struggling since Black Press bought it many years ago; the Valley Voice has much more support in the Nakusp area than does the Arrow Lakes News. The Pennywise is not a newspaper, but rather a shopper, so it is a very different type of publication. However, it has a good advertising base, particularly in Kaslo. The Valley Voice holds its own in Kaslo, but the Pennywise is considered a competitor. The Pennywise has recently had to cut back significantly, due to COVID-19. The Valley Voice had its best year ever in 2020 because the community stepped up to support the paper during the challenging times of the pandemic.
It costs approximately $7,000 to produce one issue of the Valley Voice. We aim for half the paper to be advertising and half to be editorial. A full-page advertisement costs $750. When we publish 20-page papers, we are breaking even. When we publish 24-page or larger papers, we are making money. Revenue is approximately $200,000 per year. Expenses are approximately $175,000 per year.
Expenses include wages for the co-owners. Dan and Jan each take $30,000 per year in wages, and benefit from discretionary earnings. These include the vehicle, meals and Air Miles on our credit card.
We have made a good living, raising our three children, on this business. We have also gotten to know the communities
and its people, and feel very connected and at home here.
About the Area
New Denver is an idyllic community of 600 people, located on the shore of beautiful Slocan Lake, with a surprising number of amenities for a small town. The community has a K-12 school with an excellent reputation, a health centre with 24/7 emergency and a long-term care home, a credit union, a post office, a pharmacy, a grocery store, a health food store, a gas station, a hotel and two other accommodations businesses, several cafes/restaurants, a clothing shop, a sewing shop, an outdoor store, a youth centre, and a community gym. The larger centres of Nelson and Castlegar are one and a half hours away. People of all ages live in New Denver, but the demographic here and in the entire Valley Voice distribution area is dominated by retirees. The older demographic appreciates their paper newspaper.
There are many walking and hiking trails in and close to New Denver, a volunteer-run downhill ski area a half hour
north, and cross-country ski trails nearby. The lake is very accessible. New Denver has a public wharf, a private marina and three lakeside parks.
Many of the people of New Denver and the Valley Voice coverage area are very involved in their communities and in
the issues of the day. Just read the Voices from the Valleys section of the Valley Voice to get a feel for our wonderful