They say the only thing that stays the same is change, and I’ve certainly seen my share since embarking on this direct mail advertising path in 1988 (to say nothing of my 67 years on this planet). When I bought Dollars & Sense from its founder, Bob Graf, in 1993, there was no Internet. Graphic design meant my artist wife, Peg, literally cut and pasted ads with her exacto and a gluestick. My then 17-year-old daughter, Maggie, carefully balanced my little blue checkbook, manned the phones and fax machine, and carried her briefcase up and down State Street drumming up new business. It would be another seven years before I put her own newborn daughter, my first grandchild, on the cover of this very magazine (what can I say, this job has its perks). By then, we’d have a full team of sales reps and work closely with a graphic design firm, and this crazy new talk of “coupons on computers” would dominate our watercooler debates.
Fast forward to 2016 and, while the internet has no doubt revolutionized this industry and the way in which we all experience design has evolved exponentially, so much still looks to me as familiar as it ever did. My wife opened her own watercolor studio and gallery in Mount Horeb, but you’ll occasionally see her work on this cover and inside the pages of our magazine (again, perks). After ten years selling advertising full time, Maggie switched gears and built a writing career—but she stuck close to my business, consulting with me behind the scenes, helping us write internal communications, ads and business profiles, and continuing to work with her own advertisers, some of them now 15-20 year veterans of Dollars & Sense; today she heads up all print design and web production and puts out various administrative fires (her preferred title is “Assistant to the Regional Manager.” In recent years her husband, Andy Quandt, joined our team behind the scenes, supporting both of us with his extensive management and small business ownership experience to help keep Dollars & Sense streamlined and connected. We’ve also been lucky enough to find a terrific account executive, Trisha Bloom, who’s not only an excellent employee but the kind you feel good about representing your family business around town—a rare comfort. As for me, I continue to oversee all aspects of the business, worry too much, sell new ads and cultivate relationships with the countless business owners I’ve gotten to know so well over the years—but I’ve got invested help now. Of course, at holidays, nobody can stop talking about work—but that’s probably familiar to you, if you’re anything like us: a small, local, multigenerational family-owned business. It has its ups. It certainly has its downs. But we can’t imagine doing anything else.
Dollars & Sense Magazine is the only direct mail advertising magazine delivered to every home in Dane County. We’re the clear leader since 1978, and we’re proud of that. Our mission is to support other businesses just like ours and we value, above everything, honesty and integrity. We try our best to do what we say we’re going to do, and when. The web is great; you can find searchable, hyperlinked PDFs of all our current advertisers online, we’ve got a Facebook page now and we even tweet. But it turns out the most important ingredient of our business success remains unchanged: People still want to hold a colorful, value-packed glossy paper magazine in their hands. They still head out to that mailbox every day. They certainly still want to save their hard-earned money and, more and more, they want to support local businesses whenever they can. We’re so grateful to our loyal advertisers, to the new customers who join the effort each issue, and to our faithful readership. We’re all in this thing together and we look forward to many more years of changing—and staying the same—with you.