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Breckenridge Publishing folds

KIM MARQUIS
Special to the Daily Miami-based Abarta Media pulled the plug on Breckenridge Publishing Sept. 30, ending a long-time run of Breckenridge Magazine, the town's glossy, full-sized product for tourists.
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BRECKENRIDGE – Miami-based Abarta Media pulled the plug on Breckenridge Publishing Sept. 30, ending a longtime run of Breckenridge Magazine, the town’s glossy, full-sized product for tourists. Breckenridge Publishing produced What To Do Summit County, in-room directories and the Breckenridge Magazine.Employees quickly cleaned out the Main Street office and the phone was disconnected at the beginning of the month, leaving advertisers, freelance writers and employees wondering what happened. Abarta Inc. is a Pittsburgh-based company involved in oil and gas production, Coca-Cola distribution and even owns a newspaper in the Northeast. The company’s subdivision, Abarta Media, sold all its magazine titles except the Breckenridge ones this summer, according to chief operating officer George Sparkman.”We weren’t able to find a buyer,” for the Breckenridge publications, Sparkman said. “Several people were interested, including some local people but no one made an offer.”Several publications were sold to Georgia-based Morris Communications in August. Their purchase included six franchises of the internationally known “Where” visitor guides.

The company did not consider acquiring the Breckenridge publications, according to Craig Mitchell, Morris Communications’ senior vice president of finance. The situation leaves a void for business owners such as Steve Lapinsohn, owner of Main Street Outlet, The North Face and several other retail outlets in town.Lapinsohn said he received high returns on coupon advertisements he placed annually in What To Do Summit County.”It was a very good source of advertising for me that I’ve got to figure out a way to replace,” he said. Freelance writer Alex Miller of Frisco had submitted two stories for the winter edition of Breckenridge Magazine, and said Wednesday he was told he would receive 25 percent of his contracted pay rate – also known as a “kill fee” – for the work. The winter edition of Breckenridge Magazine will not be printed.Miller said he was not surprised.

“When I talked with Emily (Martino, former general manager), it didn’t seem like the parent company was that interested in the publication,” Miller said. Martino could not be reached for comment on this story.Rachel Toth, a part-time editor, said she, too, expected the sale of Abarta’s media division would create trouble for the magazine.”It has always been unstable,” she said. “There were challenges trying to operate a Breckenridge magazine with the owner in Florida. There was always that looming doom.” Sparkman said the company intends to make good on financial commitments. Advertisers who had submitted a deposit for an unpublished issue can expect a refund, and contractors who submitted work will be paid per stipulations in their contracts, he said.”Abarta is very eager and has high desire to meet its financial obligations,” Sparkman said Thursday. “We hope we can go out with favor, and it’s unfortunate it had to happen at this time.”Advertisers will be sent a letter concerning who to contact for financial issues, Sparkman said. The company hired Media Receivables Management to handle outstanding money matters.

Dudick to pick up the ball?Mike Dudick, co-owner and marketing director at Grand Timber Lodge, created Breckenridge Magazine in 1991 and sold it to Abarta about seven years ago. Dudick in the 1990s also published the “Free Guide,” which was similar to What To Do Summit County, in-room directories and visitor guides for local chambers of commerce. He and business partner Anna Hollmeyer plan to publish in-room directories this winter for Beaver Run, ResortQuest, Grand Timber Lodge, Ski Village Resorts, Ski Country Resorts and possibly a few others, Dudick said Thursday, when he and Hollmeyer were collecting contracts to go forward with the project. As for the town-named, full-sized magazine and “What To Do” guide, Dudick, who launched Dudick Publishing this month, said he will wait to see how things go with the in-room directory and then make a decision based on community feedback whether he and Hollmeyer will move on other publications similar to the ones Breckenridge Publishing produced. Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at kmarquis@summitdaily.com.


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