Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Home delivery of the PiPress -- in Plymouth!

I subscribe to the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Star Tribune, mostly for the coupons and a pathological need to read the Sunday Target ad. It certainly isn't for the paper's prominent light rail advertorials. If only we in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities had a more conservative (less liberal?) alternative in home delivered newspapers. If only the Washington Times had a Twin Cities edition, with Target ads. If only I didn't have print out a hardcopy of Craig Westover's columns from the Internet in order to enjoy them over a cup of coffee on my front porch on a pleasantly cool spring Saturday morning.

Imagine my surprise when last week a copy of the Pioneer Press showed up in, ironically, my green Star Tribune mailbox delivery tube. Has the PiPress finally begun to offer home delivery of a west metro edition, with Target ads?

The story is at the same time not that good, and more interesting. No, the PiPress has not begun publishing a west metro edition, and no, the paper is not offering home delivery out in Plymouth. Instead, an enterprising "paper boy" named Larry Faatz has found a market for the PiPress west of the Mississippi, and is happily working from midnight to dawn to serve that market.

Faatz told me in an e-mail that he has been in the newspaper delivery business for fifteen years (at age 61, he calls himself "paperman," paperman@mn.rr.com to be exact). He works the overnight shift to home deliver the Star Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Investors Business Daily, USA Today, Barron’s, and the Pioneer Press.

"Approximately five or six years ago," said Faatz, "I approached Pioneer Press about delivering their product in the western suburbs. They didn't deliver in the Minneapolis area or suburbs and didn't feel it was feasible to do so at that time. As I was delivering all the above papers with each company involved I didn't pursue it any more. I was plenty busy with what I had.

"From May 2004 to January 2005, the Star Tribune took over the delivery of all home delivered papers. As a carrier I then had to wait around from 12:30 am to around 3:00 to 3:30 for papers to deliver. This is quite a waste of time as I had been accustomed to starting at 12:30 am and working all night. In December of 2005 I decided to invest customer tips in sampling Pioneer Press in order to start a route here in this area. I have long ago surpassed the money received but am committed to keep going. My goal is to grow the business so it will consume the entire night delivering. Most customers are subscribing a quarter at a time; however I have some who have paid annually.

"So, you see, I'm locked in here. As the Pioneer Press does not supply me I buy from the wholesaler who supplies the retail stores and vending machines in Minneapolis and the suburbs...I can deliver earlier than I used to using up some of this time I sat around for the past two years.

"I have had many comments from those who have subscribed...One customer stated they have been waiting for ten years for this paper to be delivered. Another just moved to Plymouth from Saint Paul only to find they couldn't get it; a lot say it's a better paper. I have had several that ran to the store daily seven days a week to buy this paper."

I enjoyed my sample copy of the PiPress. Compared to the Strib, it's straightforward not overdesigned, and its news sections lack those new trendy and confusing names. And the PiPress has Westover's columns (though not Mark Yost anymore, darn it). Maybe I'll have to start getting my Target ads from the Internet.

UPDATE: Faats told me that he has now received over 90 west metro inquiries for PiPress home delivery, from Eden Prairie to Maple Grove. Tell him you heard about him on North Star Liberty!


Joey said...

so, I can get the Pi Press just over the border in WI, but those who actually live in the state of MN can't. odd....

in any event, props to the Pi Press for recognizing that those of us here in "Winnesota" (St. Croix and Pierce Counties, on the border with MN) are part of the Metro area too.

julius said...

This Faatz character doesn't sound like he has much time for sleep. One morning when I awoke early to let my dog out I noticed a parked van quietly rumbling away near a bank of paper tubes. The driver, an elderly fellow with gray hair, appeared to be dozing. The van stayed there for about twenty minutes and I began to grow concerned and was about ready to pick up the phone and call the police, when I noticed the guy's head snap up, a quick look around, and then he was on his way.

I bet it was that Faatz fellow. How ironic.