Michelle's Blog Small ImageThe Winter 2001 issue came very close to being the issue that would never be published.
The spring of 2002 was a pivotal point for September House Publishing. We needed to go to print, but the bank account was empty. Our printer had extended as much credit as possible to us and was demanding payment of close to $50,000 before they would consider putting us on their presses. Here we were in March asking to print our Winter 2001 issue. It should have been out in November! What were our subscribers thinking?
Money was coming—eventually. The Canada Magazine Fund (now called the Canada Periodical Fund) had just been launched the previous year and we had an application in for a big project that would bring in $25,000. Also, we knew that if we could just get this issue out and send out renewal notices, our loyal readers would support us for another year.
To top things off, we were striving to set up an office in Norquay and were in the middle of a DIY renovation. Four of us alternated hours and worked out of the very crowed 8' x 12' kitchen while the rest of the building was being worked on. I remember squeezing in beside my receptionist, surrounded by gawdy wallpaper, to take the frightening phone call that seemed to be bringing everything to a screeching halt.
It was Phillipa, from our printer's accounts receivable department, and the message was clear—no more credit, no more press time, that's it! Phillipa was lovely and was doing all she could. She apologized that her superiors were not willing to extend any further credit to us and seemed almost sad when I had nothing to offer her (apparently they didn't want our first born.) After hanging up the phone I announced to Lionel that the magazine was done, kaput!
As it turned out, my mother-in-law had sent us a letter that day with a nice crisp $50 bill. (Don't you love small surprises?) We decided we would use that last bit of cash to go for lunch at the Whistle Stop and consider our options. Options were not abundant, so I told my receptionist that she could go home for the day. Mercifully, she didn't. Little did we know how important that would be...
We ordered our food and remained rather quiet as the reality sunk in. We were done. No more room to maneuver—out of options. We had nothing to mortgage, no sugar daddies waiting to throw money at our dream, nothing. When the phone rang at the restaurant we didn't think it was for us. I was waved over to take the call. (It’s a small town, we were easy to find.)
It was my receptionist. I was to call Phillipa immediately. I wondered if she had magically erased our debt, or found a venture capitalist who loved our magazine... I really hadn't a clue why I should call her back other than to give her the number of the lawyer who would handle our bankruptcy. We rushed back to the office to make the call.
Phillipa came up with a plan. She cautiously asked if I could send her post-dated cheques. YES! Of course! I can send as many post-dated cheques as you want! In order to help us, she agreed that she would approve our request to go to press and hang on to our cheques in her desk until I called her to let her know they were good to go through. Unbelievable! She was putting her neck on the line for us. Oh, Phillipa! You have no idea how you changed the course of history!
With permission to go to press, we were able to issue renewal notices. Our subscribers responded with gusto assuring us that they still loved us. The CMF project went through, the grant money came in and Phillipa was given the go-ahead to cash the cheques (albeit gradually) as promised.
And the magazine lives to tell the story (pun intended).
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