Story by Chris Graham
Sure, it matters that Crozet’s population is expected to triple in the next 20 years.
But Mike Marshall wasn’t looking that far into the future.
“Crozet was longing, I thought, for a way for the community identity to get out,” said Marshall, the editor of The Crozet Gazette, a monthly newspaper that the former University of Virginia Law School communications director launched in June.
Marshall debuted the paper with a mass mailing of copies of the publication to 9,200 households in Crozet and Western Albemarle County – “that should give you an indication of the size of the market that we’re looking at here,” Marshall told The Augusta Free Press.
News features run the gamut – from coverage of development issues to stories about local events to a piece in the August profiling a local poet who has just had her first book published.
“People like to get information about what their neighbors are up to. It’s also nice to see something that talks about things from your point of view,” Marshall said.
The Gazette fills another void for Crozet- and Western Albemarle-based advertisers as well, Marshall said.
“Crozet has built up about 100 businesses – and they didn’t have an advertising platform. It makes no sense for them to buy space in the Charlottesville paper, because it’s really expensive, and it goes to a lot of people who aren’t their customers and aren’t likely to be their customers,” Marshall said.
“There’s a sufficient advertising base in Crozet – and a lot of new businesses coming in that are going to need to advertise. So I thought that there was a natural market in terms of there being a little local culture plus an untapped pent-up advertising need – which I think is only going to get a little more acute as the new businesses come in to serve the new people, and they have to get their word out a little bit,” Marshall said.
Marshall has also identified a potential advertising base over the mountain in Waynesboro – where many from the Crozet-Western Albemarle area do the bulk of their retail shopping.
“I’ve been shopping ads over there – and some people are interested. I think that a lot of Waynesboro businesses know that they ought to be paying more attention to what’s going on in Crozet,” Marshall said.
“It’s going to come – because these stores realize that some of their Crozet customers are coming over the mountain, that there is a customer base for this. And they’re just waiting for the numbers to get right – where they look at the rooftops and go, Hmm, that many houses equals this number of customers for a store there,” Marshall said.
Circulation for the July and August issues of the Gazette is holding steady in the 5,000 to 6,000 range per issue, Marshall said.
“I think the response is indicative of the fact that Crozet people have always had this idea that they were their own little town – and for the most part they were ignored and left alone. But now with the growth coming in, we’re more into hanging on to our sort of point of view about things,” Marshall said.