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Monthly paper being peddled for 50 cents

January 04, 1998

Monthly paper being peddled for 50 cents

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

GERRARDSTOWN, W.Va. - The recipe will be different, but Max Grove hopes that when it reappears next month, the Mill Creek Peddler will have the same "down-home flavor."

That's how one reader described the monthly newspaper, the Gerrardstown man said recently.

Grove said the newspaper will return to newsstands and mailboxes this month after publication was suspended in December. The paper he and son Tom began publishing in February 1996 will be back with a smaller press run and a newsstand price of 50 cents.

"We've been likened to Grit and the West Virginia Hillbilly," Max Grove said of the publication, which was mailed out free to 11,000 homes and businesses, primarily in southern Berkeley County.

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Grove said the Mill Creek Peddler is popular with readers, but "the advertising base is marginal ... A lot of people were not paying their bills."

He expects to print between 5,500 and 6,000 copies in January, but they will be mailed only to those who pay the $12.50 annual subscription price, with the rest going to newsstands. He said about 300 people have subscribed so far.

"It doesn't look like there's going to be a problem selling them," Grove said.

The November issue went out with a newsstand price and moved off the shelves, he said.

Although the circulation will primarily be in Berkeley County, Grove said there are subscribers in 26 states, including Alaska and Utah. In some cases, they are people who moved from the area and want to get hometown news.

The Peddler also features a Poet's Corner, which gives aspiring poets from here and elsewhere a chance to see their work in print.

The paper's format is what Grove described as "a family, religious, moral style." The kind of news the Groves give their readers includes school honor rolls, articles about local 4-H and Lions clubs, area history, church news and pages targeting homemakers, farmers and gardeners.

A person using the pen name Uncle Skeeter writes short stories. Regular features include the Inspiration Spot, Watchman on the Wall and Freedom Under Fire.

Max and Tom Grove do some of the reporting, but many of the articles are submitted by readers.

"We change them very little," Grove said of the contributors' works.

Max Grove was born and raised in the Shanghai area, but was a self-employed graphic artist in the Washington area for several years before returning to Berkeley County in 1975. He worked for other publications before he and Tom started the Mill Creek Peddler as a weekly almost two years ago.

"That became too much of a dairy farm operation for the family," he said of putting out a weekly. They switched to a monthly last May.

"It's fun and both of us like to write. The trouble is, you have to write it, print it and sell it. It's taking care of all the bookkeeping and billing. You do it all," Grove said.

Grove said the name for the newspaper was inspired by the peddlers who once roamed the region selling their wares, spreading the news as they went from town to town.

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