For The Cost of a Cup of Coffee

Would you contribute the cost of one cup of coffee to keep your copy of this newspaper arriving in your mailbox every month?

By Loren Grube, Publisher

Each of us has felt the effects of recent inflation and rising costs — whether at the grocery store, the gas station, online, or for supplies and services we utilize every month. Due to an increase in this newspaper’s printing and delivery costs, South Stevens County Times has seen an increase of 38% in monthly expenses since October 2021.


To keep growing this valuable community newspaper, while maintaining our level of content and the amount of communities we reach, we are asking for just a small donation from you, our treasured readers – just the cost of a cup of coffee.


Delivery area nearly doubled.


South Stevens County Times (formerly Loon Lake Times) delivers a monthly newspaper to 9,500 mailboxes in South Stevens County free of charge. When Nine Mile Falls, which consists of 4,306 USPS mailboxes —66 business, 4,240 residential— was added in March 2020, our distribution nearly doubled. Nine Mile Falls is situated at the southernmost part of Stevens County along Lake Spokane, with a population of 10,167 (according to bestplaces.net). Many don’t even realize Nine Mile Falls is part of Stevens County, with a portion crossing over into Spokane County.


While presenting at a Lake Spokane chamber meeting in Jan. 2020, I learned Nine Mile Falls had lost their local newspaper (The Outpost) six years prior and were interested in being added to the every-mailbox distribution offered by the Times. Someone at the meeting told me no other newspaper would take them on. To make them feel at home in their new local paper, we added a new section called, fittingly, “The Outpost.” We’ve since brought on four reporters to cover news in Nine Mile Falls, all without charging a subscription fee.


Our model.


Most local newspapers operate on a “Subscription” basis, with an annual fee of $30 or more charged each year per residential address. Subscriptions help bring in regular income but are a “hit and miss” approach to reaching and building a community; and so, we decided to take another approach – the “Saturation” method. Our model ensures every mailbox (within each service area zip code) receives local news every month whether or not they can afford a subscription fee —connecting residents to each other, their neighbors, and local opportunities, while building community. We rely on advertising as our main source of income.


The Times delivers a wide range of relevant content, including local news and resources, a business directory, healthcare news, fire and safety, business news, arts and culture, and events, as well as inspiring local stories. This is all thanks to our team of local contributors and reporters, along with our layout, editing and delivery staff. While many free publications are made up of mostly advertisements, South Stevens County Times has maintained a 70/30 average ratio of content to advertisements.


Our service area.


The ten communities currently receiving a free newspaper to every mailbox include Ford (99013), Nine Mile Falls (99026), Tum Tum (99034), Clayton (99110), Fruitland (99129), Hunters (99137), Loon Lake (99148), Deer Lake (99148), Springdale (99173), and Valley (99181). These rural communities are typically “underserved” and suffer a large gap in reliable internet and cell phone service. Our goal is to consistently include relevant news for every community we serve. To pursue that end, our reporting team now includes nine reporters — all living within these communities. Who better to report about a community than someone who lives, eats and recreates within that community?


Once we developed a solid track-record of consistency in delivering a quality newspaper to every mailbox, residents noticed. Businesses noticed. What better way to get the word out to everyone in a large targeted
geographical area —a potential customer base, or large area of the county and its constituents.


You can make a difference!


Our goal for this fundraiser is $25,000, which would enable us to continue with the same model of delivering a free paper to every mailbox in our current service area for the next year. If 70% of direct mail delivery readers contributed just $4, we’d reach that goal!


Please look for the enclosed courtesy return envelope in this newspaper and consider an amount you can easily contribute – the cost of a cup of coffee. Contributions can be made by check in the enclosed envelope or on Venmo @SouthStevensCountyTimes.


Another way to contribute is by signing up for a one-year digital subscription ($15), which provides you with access to each monthly digital edition of the newspaper on our website. Visit https://southstevenscountytimes.com/subscriptions/ to subscribe.


We understand these are difficult times for everyone. But, if you enjoy receiving your own copy of South Stevens County Times every month, we ask that you consider a small contribution to help the paper continue its current model. Your contribution of $4, or any amount, will help us continue growing and improving.


In addition to reaching every mailbox in the rural unincorporated communities of South Stevens County, our reporting team will continue connecting these communities to local news written by fellow community members — working to make this region more vibrant. Some additional areas we plan to pursue with investigative journalism are changes in local government as well as in our local school districts.


With rising costs, however, we may need to do one of two things – charge a subscription fee, reduce the number of pages in each newspaper or the number of papers that go out every month. With your help, we will continue our model by providing the same level of high-quality content to every mailbox, a newspaper that locals have grown to appreciate and look forward to receiving every month.