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Ad-Vertiser celebrates 50th

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February 02, 2011 - Long before eBay, Craigslist or even the internet were created, the primary way folks advertised their goods and services was through the local newspaper.

As the old joke goes, it was black and white, and "read" all over.

Fifty years ago, James A. Sherman, Sr. publisher of The Oxford Leader from 1955 to 1995, decided this area needed, in addition to the well-known local paper, a new advertising medium a shopping guide comprised entirely of classified and display advertising, no editorial copy.

"The Ad-Vertiser was born out of necessity," he explained. "In Michigan and across the country, 'shopping guides' were being introduced. These free circulation advertising papers became major competition for newspapers, especially weeklies.

"Shopping guides promised 'blanket' coverage, and without reporters, their expenses were lower than newspapers, thus they could sell advertising for less cost."

Determined not to be outdone by these upstarts in the publishing industry, Sherman, Sr., along with his wife Hazel, who passed away in 2001, created The Ad-Vertiser: The Paper With The Ads.

On Feb. 8, 1961, the very first issue rolled off the presses, destined for living rooms and kitchen tables across northeast Oakland County. (Incidentally, this milestone came the week after Collier Lanes opened, so happy 50th anniversary to them.)

Originally, the Ad-Vertiser was circulated free via the U.S. Post Office to "over 5,000 homes" every Thursday.

The Ad-Vertiser not only kept Sherman's newspaper competitive, it gave his publishing company the revenue and the range to grow and succeed over the next five decades.

"Had we not succumbed to the apparent needs of the advertisers, The Leader may well have survived, but it surely would not have grown into what Sherman Publications has become," said Sherman, Sr.

Today, the Ad-Vertiser is still free and it still comes in the mail, but now it reaches an impressive 25,600 homes every Wednesday like clockwork. It covers every single residence within seven zip codes.

"The Ad-Vertiser goes into more homes in Oxford and Lake Orion than the daily county paper does," said Jim Sherman, Jr., who took over as publisher in 1995.

The main thing the Ad-Vertiser offers that the internet and big daily papers do not is the old-fashioned concept of "neighbor-to-neighbor advertising."

"It's easier to let someone into your home to buy your stuff if they are your neighbor than if they're from Flint, Pontiac or Detroit," said Sherman, Jr.

Classified ads in the Ad-Vertiser also appear in other local publications including the Oxford Leader, Lake Orion Review, Clarkston News and Penny Stretcher, which exposes them to an additional 24,800 homes.

"This gives advertisers access to over 50,000 local people looking for bargains, hard-to-find items, garage sales, jobs, pets and all sorts of services," said Sherman, Jr.

And that doesn't include the increasing number of folks who use the internet to find everything they need.

For about a month now, the Ad-Vertiser's pages have been available for perusal on the Web at www.ouradvertiser.com.

"The internet isn't replacing our print edition, it's enhancing it," explained Sherman, Jr. "We're giving people a bigger bang for their buck by exposing their ads to thousands of people who don't receive the Ad-Vertiser in the mail."

In the coming months, the Ad-Vertiser will begin offering liner ads that will allow readers to include photos of whatever they're selling, from vehicles to houses and everything in between.

As always, Sherman, Jr. is extremely grateful to the community for its never-ending support and the loyalty it's shown to his family.

"Thanks for making the Ad-Vertiser Oxford and Lake Orion's best resource for finding out what our area businesses have to offer week after week for 50 years," he said. "Thanks for your confidence."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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