Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pay dirt at a yard sale

Counry woman mag A couple of weeks ago, I hit pay dirt at a yard sale.  An entire paper box of old Taste of Home magazines and Country Woman magazines for $5.  (We're talking less than 5 cents each.)

I first found Taste of Home on a magazine rack in Lewiston, NY.  I was on my way to England via Toronto and wanted something to read on the plane.  Wee, this was fun!  A magazine with no advertising that was all about food. It had lots of cornball--but fun--sidebars, like "My Most Embarrassing Moment In The Kitchen," stuff kids got wrong (like saying a teacher's name was Miss Salad Bar instead of Miss Salazar), ridiculous menus that could "feed your family for $1.35 a plate" (yeah, if you had most of the spices in stock and had a family of 6-8).

Every issue was good for at least an hour or two of pure reading pleasure.  And the recipes were easy, with only a few ingredients.  (And they always featured a page or two of cooking for one or two, which is great if that's the size of your family.)

Tasteofhomelogo We ended up subscribing to a bunch of these Reiman Magazines.  And on a business trip, we even stopped and checked out the home base in Greendale, Wisconsin.

And then, as always happens when something is successful and bucks the trends, they got offered a big pile of money and got bought out.  In this case, to Readers Digest.  It wasn't long before Taste of Home went right down the toilet--IMNSHO.

All the cute, fun, cornball stuff was gone.  Gone were My Mom's Best Meal, and the like.  Everything that made the magazine(s) charming and unique was gone.  They decided to aim at a bigger demographic than just farm wives.  (Hey, I wasn't a farm wife, and I enjoyed it.) It became just another slick magazine and I stopped renewing.  That's why I buy up every old issue of the magazine I can find at yard sales.  Okay,  I now own three copies of some issues, but when you buy them for pennies a copy, what's the difference?

New coke This whole situation reminds me of how Coca-Cola miscalculated when they decided to dump their successful Coke for New Coke.  Consumers let them know in a hurry what a big mistake that was.  Only so far it seems like Readers Digest won this round.  They may have found new readers, but I'll bet they lost a heck of a lot of their reader base, too.

What have you enjoyed that was ruined by improvements?