Maybe it was the way the stars lined up.
We had several people suggest to us the week before last that the Times should give more coverage to new businesses opening up in town.
And it just so happened that we reported on the opening of four new businesses in our Aug. 6 issue: Insight Tire and Auto, SwagDudz clothing store, Greenscapes arts and crafts shop, and Wells Gray Art Gallery.
Several other businesses apparently have opened recently. This is good to see, as it is an indication that the local economy is improving. Why don’t we do stories about them too?
The general rule is: we support our advertisers. If people place an ad in the paper saying they are opening a business, then they can expect that we will go out and cover it. On the other hand, if a business doesn’t support the newspaper by advertising, then it would be a bit unusual for us to support them.
There are exceptions though. For example, the new art gallery in the Infocenter got coverage even though it hasn’t advertised. Our thinking was that, while it might eventually make a profit, its initial role is to provide local artists with a place to show their wares and to raise the community’s artistic profile with tourists.
It has been suggested that the Times publish a regular feature on new businesses. One question would be: who would pay for it? Clearwater and District Chamber of Commerce would be an obvious choice, but the chamber already has other commitments, and is even seeking help from District of Clearwater to keep its information desk at the Infocenter open.
Another question would be: which new businesses? Would they need to have their own storefront? Or would home-based businesses qualify? What about existing businesses that are starting a new product line? Most new businesses fail within the first year. Would someone try to filter out those unlikely to succeed?
Although there is always room for improvement, the existing practice likely is still the best. If a new business wants to get support from the newspaper, then it should support the newspaper by buying an ad.