Business & Economy

Burlington-area business magazine ceases publication

Cover of Business People-Vermont’s August 2019 edition.

Business People-Vermont magazine, once a fixture in doctors’ waiting rooms, has gone out of business.

The free monthly published its final issue in August. Owner Jack Tenney, now 80, has been living full time in Florida for the last couple of decades, said his son Paul Tenney, a Colorado resident who was cleaning out the company’s Williston offices.

“It’s very sad,” said Paul Tenney. “I’ve had to throw away boxes and boxes of toner from the typesetter they haven’t had since the 1990’s.”

Business People started in 1984 as part of a Portland, Maine-based franchise that grew to include 35 publications called Business Digest, all serving communities of 150,000 people or fewer, Paul Tenney said. The magazines did very well in the 1980s and 1990s, he said, but by 1998 their popularity had faded, and in 1998 Jack Tenney acquired the magazine and changed its name from Business Digest of Greater Burlington to Business People-Vermont.

The magazine’s freelance writers and photographers created profiles of business owners all over the state, and until recently 6,000 copies were distributed statewide, Paul Tenney said.

Now, only one of the original franchisees remains, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That company has grown in the community of 265,000, and now publishes four other magazines as well. 

Business People-Vermont hadn’t made money in years, Paul Tenney said. Like most other print media, the magazine struggled to compete with much less costly online publications. Advertising revenues have dropped for most general interest publications, even those — like Business People-Vermont — with an online presence. Advertisers just aren’t spending money on digital newspaper and magazine ads, according to eMarketer.com.

According to the research company Statistica, U.S. periodical publishers’ revenue fell from $46 billion in 2007 to around $28 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, the number of readers slightly increased in that period, Statistica said.

Paul Tenney said most of Business People-Vermont’s employees were on the older side and were ready to stop working; the general manager had retired to Tennessee and was trying to find someone to replace her.

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Tenney’s father had lived in Florida since the 1990s.

“He loved the community, but the community he knew is long gone,” Paul Tenney said.

Paul Tenney and his brother own three marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. 

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Anne Wallace Allen

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