13 June 2010

Farewell to the Last Map Store in New York City

American Map Corp. will not be renewing the lease on the venerable Hagstrom Map Store (formerly Hammond Map Store) on 43rd Street in Manhattan. The lease runs until March, but if the landlord finds a new tenant sooner, the store will close.

In addition to the Hagstrom store, New York once had a thriving Rand McNally store, one of the original four along with San Francisco, Chicago and Washington. Long-time manager Edith Snizek was a legend in the business.

The Complete Traveler is now strictly antiquarian, where once they carried current guides and maps. So now the only travel publishing specialist shop in Manhattan will be Idlewild Books, but it is a small store focused on travel literature and experience, with very few maps. Longitude is a web store and does not have a storefont, but does accept walk-in visitors. They carry a good number of maps along with travel books.

Edith Snizek

03 March 2010

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today

In the late 70s, I was working in radio in Portland, Maine, selling ads during the week and DJing on the weekend. It's the only industry I had seriously considered since I was 12.

In 1977 I met a guy socially who had recently started a map publishing company. His name was David DeLorme, and his company has since become a leader in the mapping industry. Then, it was David and a rotating cast of 2 - 4 others who worked for him. I sold him some ads on WBLM, the top rock station in the market.

Months later, he offered me a job as his sales and marketing guy. I dithered on accepting it. I wasn't doing well in radio, but it's all I had thought of for years and I was blind to how perfect for me the job offer was. Eventually I accepted and knew the first day it was a good move. That day was March 3, 1980.

The day I really realized how good I had it was when I made my first road sales trip in April. David sent me up the Moosehead Trail, which is the road from Newport to Greenville, Maine (at the southern end of Moosehead Lake). I was greeted as a returning hero at convenience stores and sport shops. "Hey, it's the map guy! Load me up!" I pulled boxes of maps and atlases out of the car, wrote invoices, and they paid in cash. Cash! In radio, nobody really wanted to buy advertising, and when they did, they really didn't care to pay for it.

Thirty years later, I'm still selling maps. It's been a wonderful career. I've worked for three of the top companies in my field, DeLorme, Mapquest and National Geographic. I've been president of my trade association. I created the first comprehensive web directory of map-related sites. I still enjoy this so much I bought a map company last year, so now I'm a publisher, along with my wife.

Thank you, David.

One of the radio ads I wrote for DeLorme in 1979