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Hoosier Magazines.

Call an Indiana company at 1-800-824-MAGS to order you favorite magazines.

Robert W. Lake's not a publisher, but magazines are in his blood. His business is not writing them or printing them, but selling them.

The Michigan City businessman's latest idea coincides with the increased emphasis on buying close to home. Last year he launched a magazine-subscription service called Hoosier Magazines, designed to appeal to avid readers who not only don't have time to mess with subscription renewals but also have a desire to support a local business. It's not the only business of its kind, but it's the only one proud enough of its heritage to name itself "Hoosier."

As a subscription service, Hoosier Magazines offers customers a long list of magazines to which they may subscribe. Customers may subscribe to any number of these magazines with just one phone call. Throughout Indiana, Hoosier Magazines is listed in the Yellow Pages under "magazines." The toll-free number is 1-800-824-MAGS. The agency handles all of the arrangements, and customers receive just one bill each year.

The service is at the very least convenient, and in some cases, less expensive than subscribing to each magazine separately. There are special professional trade rates, student/education rates and consumer gift rates. And if a customer picks a magazine and then doesn't like it, he or she can call Hoosier Magazines and substitute another title of equivalent value.

Frequent users of this kind of service are doctors and dentists, who like to fill their waiting rooms with reading materials but don't have the time to deal with all of those publications. However, Lake stresses that the service can be useful to anyone who subscribes to a few magazines.

Hoosier Magazines may be new, but Lake has had a long association with the subscription business. His family operates Publishers Consulting Corp., which has been offering these types of services nationwide for years. Hoosier Magazines essentially is a regional marketing variation of an already existing business.

"Our business was started by my grandfather, Walter H. Lake Jr., who sold magazines door-to-door in 1932," Robert Lake says. "In 1948, he moved the business to Michigan City."

More recently, Lake, who is president of the companies, took stock of the business. "We realized that we were mostly serving as a clearinghouse for other companies," he says, explaining that other firms would sell the subscriptions and work with his organization to make the arrangements.

"We figured that we were missing a lot of opportunity around us," he says. "We thought, 'Let's sell out of our location to businesses, school libraries, professional reception areas.' There are other subscription agencies in other states, but we thought that we can offer the same services and keep the money here, providing jobs for Hoosiers, keeping taxes here and supporting the community."

In addition to providing jobs to Hoosiers, Lake says Hoosier Magazines benefits the community through charitable contributions. And Hoosier Magazines has set up special arrangements with civic and scholastic organizations, allowing members to order magazines and have a portion of the proceeds go to benefit the organization.

Lake concedes that the competition is tough in the subscription-service business. Among his higher-profile competitors is Publishers Clearing House, which markets magazines with multimillion-dollar sweepstakes.

But Lake feels confident with the local approach and his slogan, "Bringing it Back Home to Indiana."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:periodical subscription services in Michigan City, Indiana
Author:Kaelble, Steve
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:May 1, 1993
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