Falling back into a slower pace

Fall is quickly approaching and that means a somewhat more quiet time on The Hidden Coast. The Scalloping Season is over and the region is returning back to some type of normalcy. 

It’s been a little more difficult in some parts of the area due the rain we received this summer (not to mention a tropical storm as well). Rain gauges turned into rain barrels and day and day the sky opened up. I was in the Steinhatchee area shortly after the last major deluge and could not believe the amount of standing water.  So much so, that I saw an alligator on the side of the road. Only in Florida. As of this writing we still have a couple more months of hurricane season and we can only hope and pray that Mother Nature will spare us a direct hit. 

I am happy to say that the weather did not slow us down over the last couple months. We are again planning to produce a 40-page magazine for September/October and that is a first for us. We have never had back-to-back 40 page issues and I am happy to say it looks like the last one of the year (November/December) will be the same size as well. We are very humbled and honored that our little magazine has become so popular. The biggest complaint we had this summer was everybody was out of magazines. “They are flying out of here,” is how one of our customers told us. With that being said we spoke to our printer and decided to increase our circulation starting with this edition! We will also be celebrating our five year anniversary in our next issue, and there will be more to come on that later.

In addition to our printed magazine doing so well our online numbers are even better. We are on track to quadruple the “New Users” to our website for 2021. Our web advertisers enjoyed exceeding one million views in mid-summer as well. Our click thru rate continues to be over .20% and we are very happy for that. Nerd talk, as my wife calls it, so I will spare you with all the specifics. In short, we are being seen in-print and online by a lot of people!  

One final note is we have added new items to our online store. These include visors, bags, shirts and koozies. The holidays are just around the corner and these would make great gifts and stocking stuffers. 

I feel like I spent this whole blog bragging on us, but we would be nowhere without our wonderful advertisers and writers who continue to support us. Please take a moment to let them know you saw them in The Hidden Coast Magazine. 

Until the next time. Enjoy the fall season on The Hidden Coast and we will see you in November.

Summer is Here!

Summer is here and we are happy to celebrate it with our 40 page July/August edition! This is only the second time we have hit the 40 page mark and we are super excited it happened during the scalloping season. This time of the year brings in thousands of visitors to the region and we are so happy to be able to promote this beautiful part of the state with our magazine. Scalloping is a fun time and if you have never been you should make plans to do it in 2021. From what we have heard this year, the scallops are plentiful and your options to get out there are plentiful.  Many of the areas we advertise offer charters for half and full days. You can also rent a boat at some of the marinas as well. Lodging and restaurants aren’t a problem, but make sure to call ahead for availability and or reservations. Also check the weather and BRING SUN SCREEN. The Gulf sun is unforgiving and you will feel it later. 

We have four new customers with us for this round; Tonys Johns, Steinhacthee Outdoor Adventures, Good Time Charters and Steinhatchee For Sale By Owner. We welcome all of them to our magazine and we hope they will be with us for a long time to come. We also have our usual local authors in with us giving us insight on history and the beautiful surroundings of this area. An added bonus for this round is information regarding the scalloping season from Savanna Barry, IFAS and Mike Farmer, Salt Addiction Charters. These are articles are very informative and will keep both you, and those around you, safe.

If you are planning to make a trip to the area, and we hope you do soon, please keep in mind the following. Everybody is finally getting outside again after an unbelievable 18 months for all of us. Lines are long and staff is short for many places right now. These are small towns already and seasonal crowds are always a challenge. This year it is even harder so please have patience and consideration for the local folks. They are trying to make your visit a memorable one and they want you to come back again. 

Until the Fall. Thanks for reading our little magazine and happy scalloping!

The eyes of summer are upon us!

The eyes of summer are upon us. Hard to believe we are looking at May already. My son is a college graduate now. He graduated UF this week and officially ended his college career. His mom and I are so proud of all that he has accomplished. He, along with all the other graduates who walked across the stage on Monday, did more than just earn a diploma – they beat the pandemic. They showed that nothing can stand in the way of succeeding if everyone works together to solve problems and move obstacles. Hats off to every student from kindergarten to graduate school. You adapted, stayed vigilant and made us all proud. It makes me feel a little better about this county and who we will be handing the keys off to down the road.

Our March/April edition was a very successful issue for us. We actually had record sales and more new advertisers than any other previous edition. We have carried that over to this issue with more new advertisers and several calls and inquires about us. I associated it with people wanting to finally get outside and do something. Vaccinations and downward turns on all virus charts show a positive attitude coming into the summer months. Traveling is opening back up and many events are back on for the calendar year.

Time is such a unique element. It can be our best friend or worst enemy. One thing we must always remember is to cherish it. Life can change it a heartbeat and not one of us is ever guaranteed a tomorrow. Love those in your life – Respect them, listen to them, cherish them. I mentioned earlier I thought the upward tick in our business was from the people wanting to get outside again, but a friend of mine, a retired banker, had another take on it. He mention the five year bounce and it goes something like this: “You are finally entrenched in your market, People recognize your brand and your product is consistent.”  The journey so far has been a continuing learning experience. My background was in design and production when we started this magazine, I knew hardly anything about the business side of it – mainly sales. Its been a hard learning curve but the more I got to thinking about it the more I realized the phone has been ringing a bit more lately and the emails have been picking up as well. I can’t argue with a banker I guess, although it makes me wonder what the “10 year” bounce will be.

Our July edition will be all scalloping so please be on the lookout for it in July. Until the next time, thanks for reading and safe travels.

Welcome to Spring!

Welcome to Spring! In my opinion, the most beautiful season in Florida. This year you will not have to look far to find something to do and take advantage of being outdoors. There are six festivals planned in the upcoming months and we cannot forget the Steinhatchee Fiddler Crab Festival that kicked it all off in February. That hard working bunch of volunteers, led by the tenacious chamber of commerce, put a great event. Even with the weather against them they moved forward and put on a great event that included 5K+ visitors and over 100 vendors. Kudos to them!

The rest of the events will begin next weekend with the Lower Suwannee Art & Nature Festival. After that will be the Annual Florida State Bluegrass Festival, the Horseshoe Beach Spring Festival, the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, the Fly-In, Cruise-In and Business Expo and finally the Garden Show and Spring Festival wrapping everything up for the first weekend in May. Times, dates and locations are listed in our current edition so please plan to pick a copy up, throughout the region, or view the entire issue online at thehiddencoastmag.com

It is so nice to be getting some type of normalcy back in our lives and we tip our hat to all of these communities for moving forward. Remember, these are all small towns and businesses and they sure can use our support as well. If you have never been to one of these festivals listed, please make plans to attend. Social distancing guides will be in effect for all of them, and they are all outdoors.

We welcome three new businesses with our latest edition, The DeckSkin Compound/Team Williams Printing & Signs (Steinhatchee), Dock Side Motel (Cedar Key) and Cafe Marina Coffee House (Steinhatchee). We thank them all for being part of our little magazine and look forward to working with them in the future.

All of our usual advertisers are back in with us as well along with some wonderful articles by our local authors. From fishing, to history, to day trips – they have you covered. North Florida has so much to offer and I feel pretty confident they will never run out of material to write about. We thank all of them for their continued support of our magazine, and looking at the feedback from our social media our readers are enjoying them too. Thank you!

Look for our next edition in May. In the meantime we have added two new racks in the area. One is at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Fanning Springs and the other is at the Beachside Motel in Cedar Key. Our online numbers continue to climb as well. Our web advertisers have been averaging over 10K views per month since January and our agreement with VisitFLA is locked in for 2021. Thank you for reading!

New Year. New Day.

Happy New Year! With the holidays behind us, and also 2020, we look forward to getting back on track and doing what we do best. Promoting this beautiful area we call, The Hidden Coast

As of now we know of five local festivals that are planning to hold events in the first part of this year. BrewFest in Perry, Fiddler Crab Fest in Steinhatchee, Spring Fest in Horseshoe Beach, Lower Suwannee Art & Nature Festival in Suwannee and the Arts Festival in Cedar Key. What great news for everyone, and please make plans to attend one, if not all of them. All are outdoor events and venues so you can take advantage of Florida’s beautiful surrounding while supporting these local communities and the hard working people who make them happen. We plan to be at all of them as well, so please stop by our tent and say hello! 

We have a 32-page magazine filled with great information and tidbits. This includes are usual articles submitted by our wonderful local writers, fun things to do and great places to grab a bite. We also welcome The Rusty Hook and Steinhatchee Bait and Tackle into our magazine and thank them for their support. Both of these places are for the serious fisherman in the house and they can steer you in the right direction, with the right bait, to catch “The Big One.”

Look for our blue racks throughout the region and also our social media pages online. Follow us on Facebook to keep up with our weekly posting of events and advertisers in the area. Also, listen for our radio spots on local radio stations and don’t forget about our online store carrying the “ Last of Old Florida” Apparel and promotional items. 

Thanks and hope to see you soon!

How I spent 2020 in 100 words or less.

How do you define a year like this? Better yet, how I spent 2020 in 100 words or less. Not a story you can tell your neighbor or kids because we all lived it, but boy what story it will be for their children’s children. Looking at the unknown is always somewhat scary, but we pulled through it, like this country always does. Even with our TV’s yelling back at us we, as a people, knew what was right and how to act. It’s quite extraordinary how the media has divided this country. Yes I said it. The media has indeed divided this country – or at least tried to. And if you take a minute and really think about it. Webster defines it as: “noun 1. a person who reports, especially one employed to report news or conduct interviews for newspapers or broadcasts.” Where does it say “news-maker”? Where does it say “opinion-maker”. Folks, these people are just like you and me. They are trying to make a buck and live a good life. If you think there is an allegiance to any of the top, so-called networks, today I am afraid to say, “you are wrong.” I believe any one of them would jump ship for the next network if the amount of zeros were to their liking. Remember that. Educate yourself and listen to all sides of the story. For goodness sakes, don’t get your information off social media. All things and every thing can be tainted. Read, listen and make up your own mind. Don’t let someone else do it for you. As I read on social media over the summer, “Don’t believe everything on the internet just because it has my face next to it.” – Abraham Lincoln. With that said, I will leave it alone. 

The year started out very strong for our magazines. We hit our magical sales goals in March and then the sky fell. We pulled back, pulled forward, went up and went down. We did all we could for our advertisers but by September many of them had pulled the plug on the year and planned to start again in 2021. Who can blame them. We appreciate all of our advertisers who stuck with us through the year. I know it was a tough decision to keep advertising especially when every dollar counted and not many of them were coming in. My old boss in this business once told me, “In bad times advertising is always the first to go, but we are always the first to come back.” 

We ended the year at 24 pages for this edition. The page count may be down but the content is perfect. We have have everything you will want. Articles on history, fishing, the outdoors plus a wide variety of unique shopping and excellent restaurants in the area. When you come to the area, and we hope you do, please let our advertisers know you saw them in our magazine or on our website. 

Finally, take a minute to browse our online store. We have a wide selection of shirts, hats, decals and magnets to chose from. One-of-a-kind gifts for that hard to buy person on your list. We plan to offer some great deals, so keep an eye out as we get closer to the holidays. 

As bad as 2020 was, in the end I am grateful for the good health of my family. I am blessed for the gifts I have been given and I thank the Good Lord for them often. We’ve made great memories over the years (including this year), and I look forward for what the future holds for us. Friends have come and gone in my life, but family is consistent. And as my wife says, “Never turn your back on your family.” No better words. From our family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas and happy and healthy new year. 

A Big Bounce.

I was driving home last week, after a day of selling, and drove through a tremendous thunderstorm. Plenty of rain, wind, thunder and lightening. 15 minutes down the road, it was sunshine and a beautiful sunset. Mother Nature’s way of saying, the journey will not be easy, but the rewards will be great. I always told my kids, it’s the best free entertainment you will get all day – a sunrise and a sunset. Seems like we all have lost sight of that anymore. So addicted to our TV’s, computers and cellphones that we are letting the world go right by us. I’ve said many times that I feel so lucky to have grown up in this beautiful state and have so many things close. The beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, the great fishing and outdoor activities of the Gulf of Mexico, tubing down the world renowned Ichetucknee River and of course the theme parks of Orlando. I feel even more blessed to have been able to stay in this area and raise a family and start this business. We will never be able to say thank you enough to all of our advertisers and readers who have made it possible. Incredibly enough, our next edition for November/December will begin our fifth year in print.

We were a little uneasy going into this current issue. July/August had been very slow and our page count dropped to 24 pages. No fault of anyones for sure, as we are all traveling this road together. This round, I am happy to say, brought a big bounce. We are back to 32 pages and we have some old friends who have joined us again with advertising and also contributing articles.

Toni Collins and Jeff Cary lead the pack with excellent articles on history and a spoof on the local critters thoughts on COVID-19. Rhonda Rogers-Bardsley has again sent us some articles regarding the latest happenings in Steinhatchee and how they fared through the summer. The Cedar Key Historical Society sent us an informative article on how you can help support this great organization, and I happy to say we have Mike Farmer, Salt Addictions, back in with us as well. Mike is a heck fisherman and he shares his knowledges of fishing over the years in the waters off Steinhatchee. Finally Natalie Stephens, of UF/IFAS NCBS gives us a great overview on the creation of the Living Shorelines in Cedar Key.

Cedar Key Canvas, Anglers RV Campground and Pelican Realty are back in with us for this edition. In addition Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens gave us a great cover shot and The Lower Suwannee Art & Nature Festival is starting early looking for vendors for their event in March, 2021. We thank all of them for their continued support of our little magazine. We know it has not been easy.

Be on the lookout for our last edition of the year in November. I, for one, will be happy to put 2020 behind me. We look forward to 2021 with guarded optimism and hope for a return of some type of normalcy.

Back in print.

I didn’t think hitting the “send” button would ever feel as good as it did last week. What was sent was files to our printer to “print” a July/August edition. What a long spring and summer it has been so far. Our region, our state, our country and our world has been turned upside down. Inundated with bad news everywhere you look is enough to turn even the most positive person a little blue. We have turned off the TV in our house, and although it doesn’t make the world all better, it does make our household and well-being a whole lot better. Try it for a week, maybe even two. Turn off the TV, radio and disconnect (as best possible) from any social media. I will guarantee you will be amazed by the beautiful scenery around you and the wonderful people in your life. Contrary to what you see and hear, it is a wonderful world out there. And we are showing our little piece of it with our new issue.

All of our regular advertisers are back with us – plus some new ones and old ones. We have Toni Collins and Jeff Cary giving us insight on the area with their articles about local history and the outdoors. We also have the Steinhatchee Chamber showing off all their new culinary choices with the invasion of food trucks in their town. See, there is a plus side to this mess already!

Of course, scalloping season is in full swing this month. A huge part of local economies that so desperately need a shot in the arm right now. I say it every year, if you have never been, please make plans to do it. It is a fun time for the whole family that you do outdoors and in the Gulf of Mexico. What is better than that? All you need to bring is a mask and some flippers. UF IFAS has a great article regarding the dos and don’ts. So make plans now!

We look to continue our expansion of racks over the summer as well. Marion, Sumter and Alachua counties are on the radar. The Florida Welcome Centers opened last week, so we will be filling our rack there as well. We also plan to introduce some new items to our apparel line for “The Last of Old Florida.” Keep an eye out for these to arrive in July!

We thank all of of our advertisers for picking right back up with us. We also thank you, the reader, for your continued support of our little magazine. It’s good to be back in print!

Until September, enjoy our magazine and enjoy the world around you.

They shake off adversity.

Our last printed edition dropped the first week of March and it seems so long ago. Since then we have learned the words social distancing, flatten the curve, pandemic, and quarantine. All new words to our vocabulary. We watched our country come to a halt almost over night. No restaurants, no bars, no churches, no beaches, no parties, no Easter, no haircuts and no sports. The last one hitting our home particularly hard.

In our portion of the world we saw businesses close and cancel advertising immediately. We were in Cedar Key the day the Arts Festival was cancelled and that was just the beginning. One after another festivals and events cancelled throughout the region. A ripple that turned into a wave. No visitors, no money – simple as that. A majority of the area we cover is consisted of small towns and communities. These events, scheduled once or twice a year, are relied on by many businesses and individuals. To lose one is hard, to lose all of them is devastating. But I have faith.

This is a tough part of Florida and these residents work hard. They shake off adversity and keep going. We know that because we started our magazine back in 2016 (right after Tropical Storm Hermine). Although it was barely a tropical storm the area was hit hard by flooding. What transpired afterwards was that the region banded together to help each other out by cleaning, feeding and rebuilding. It was an amazing sight. That spirit is out there, not only on The Hidden Coast, but in our great country. Its been a long two months, but I know we will all come together, like we have done countless times before, and help each other to the finish line.

We will not print a May/June edition. Instead we will continue to promote this beautiful area all online. We will keep updating our website and social media and creating AdWord campaigns to let people know “we are ready, when you are ready.” Our fingers and toes are crossed that we will be back out on the streets in July with our next printed edition (Just in time for scalloping season).

In the meantime stay safe, stay well and we will see you soon.

Hello Spring!

Turn off the TVs and computers. Put down the cell phones and newspapers and just unplug for the day or the weekend. Give yourself a chance to see that world is not as bad as it seems. This a beautiful area to recharge and clear your head and your lungs. Like the rest of the world around us, this area is made up of hard working, friendly people who welcome you to discover this beautiful and indeed “Hidden” part of our state. Come see it and come experience if for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Spring is here and with it comes several outdoor events and festivals in the area. These are the 18th Annual Florida State Bluegrass Festival and Chili Cook-off (on our current cover), The Big Bend Brew Fest, the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, The Trenton Quilt Fest, The Lower Suwannee Art & Nature Festival, The Horseshoe Beach Spring Festival, the Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens 6th Annual Garden Show and Spring Festival, The Taking the Crown Kingfish Tournament, The Cross City Airport Fly-In Cruise-In and Business Expo and The Cedar Key Pirate Invasion. Each event has it’s own unique identity and you can find information on all of them in our current edition.

The Levy County Historical Society has a new home and Toni Collins has an informative article about where it is and how it all came to be. We congratulate this group and wish them well. Toni has been a big supporter of ours since day one, and if you are familiar with our magazine I know you have read some of her wonderful articles about the rich history of this area. Jeff Cary brings us an in-depth article on the Cross City Fly-In later this month and Jason Bryne gives us another interesting look at history in Central Florida.

We welcome some new advertisers to this edition. Smokin’ Jay’s BBQ Shack in Steinhatchee and Chiefland Billards Sports Bar off U.S. 19 in Chiefland. We also have two Cedar Key pages promoting local businesses in conjunction with the Arts Festival happening in April. We thank all of them for their support of our little magazine, and please let them know you saw them in our magazine!

2020 has been extremely busy for us, and we proud to bring you another edition of our magazine. Stick around and see how we do this year. We are growing leaps and bounds into new areas of this state, and with that comes new businesses, new stories and new friends to meet. We currently have 40+ racks throughout the region and we just reached an agreement with six restaurants that will have our rack on location! These are located up and down U.S. 19 and of course we still have our rack at the official welcome center on I-75. This along with racks at the Sun Stop Food Store locations on the I-10 & I-75 and a strong online presence gives you plenty of options to find us.

Finally, don’t forget our Hidden Coast apparel! Summer is coming and we have a wide selection of shirts and hats.

Thank you again for reading our magazine and we will see you in May!