The first Trader was published in 1992 by owners Bruce Proctor and Kathy Jo Lucky, from their land in Humboldt County, with a used computer and printer run with a generator. Together they had over 30 years experience in the newspaper business. Bruce worked in management and sales for Photo Ad in San Luis Obispo. Kathy Jo, a journalism major and graphic designer, worked for a number of different publications including weekly and daily newspapers, real estate, auto, and visitor magazines. They dreamed of starting their own paper, and a year after moving to Humboldt County, they went for it.
Bruce and Kathy Jo knew they needed something different. There were already two newspapers in Redway and Garberville, but they knew from their own experience selling Golden Retrievers that the advertising didn't work that well. There wasn't a local magazine in the area, so they decided to go with a format similar to the one they had worked for in San Luis Obispo; classified ads with pictures. They would make it more diverse by adding some editorial to make it interesting to a larger audience. On the 9 inch screen of a used Mac Classic, they put out the first edition of The Humboldt Trader and distributed 3,000 copies in Redway, Garberville, and in the outlying areas of Whitethorn, Shelter Cove, and Leggett. Thanks to the great business owners who paid for their ads up front, Bruce and Kathy Jo were able to pay their print bills and keep publishing.
After a few years, they began expanding into Fortuna, Eureka, Willits, and Ukiah. Since they were now in several counties they dropped the "Humboldt" and became The Trader. The Trader has now been in business for over 20 years and is distributed at over 500 locations in five counties all over Northern California, including all the little towns out Highway 299 to Weaverville, and covers all the little "villes" and "bergs" in between with one paper.
The Trader is one of the last independently owned publications left in Northern California. If you are a regular reader, you will note that most of the businesses you see in The Trader have advertised for years. They advertise consistently because the two week schedule makes advertising both economical and effective, but mostly because The Trader works. The Private Party advertising in The Trader is the best deal in five counties and the entertainment calendar features community theater, classes, and concerts throughout Northern California, with free listings to non-profits.
Our Captain at the helm!
Drawing by Alison Doran of A.T. Comics
The Trader ship on our cover was drawn by local artist, Butch Cornelius. It is the USS Constitution drawn from historical photos.