After more than 60 years of community publishing, brothers Arlo and Dan are ready to transfer ownership
Above, from left: Dan Kallemeyn, Mark Hornung, and Arlo Kallemeyn are working out an agreement to transfer ownership of the Shopper. (Photo: Latoya Lowery)
by Melanie Jongsma
Important note: This story was not actually published on March 24, 2020, as the dateline indicates. The Lansing Journal had planned to publish it one day before a March 25 agreement between the Shopper and Southwest Community Publishing was finalized. When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a stay-at-home order in Illinois beginning March 21, 2020, businesses were forced to suspend long-term plans. As a result, Southwest Community Publishing ultimately backed out of the purchase. Instead, the Kallemeyn family sold the Shopper to two Shopper employees on May 1, 2020: “The Shopper returns — under new ownership.” We published this story after the fact because it is part of our history, although it wasn’t publicly known, and we don’t want to lose it.
SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (March 24, 2020) – “We are retiring from the publishing business,” said Arlo Kallemeyn about two months ago. Arlo and Dan Kallemeyn have spent the last four decades running the advertising newspaper their father Alonzo started in the 1960s. The paper is currently distributed weekly in South Holland, Lansing, Thornton, Dolton, and Calumet City, and it has been used by many local businesses to reach their customers with sales and up-to-date information. Prior to eBay, it was the leading local platform for buying and selling clothing, furniture, cars, pets, collectibles, housewares, musical instruments, toys, tools, and other neighborhood miscellany. Many readers continue to peruse its pages in search of coupons, local jobs, and neighborhood garage sales.
Rather than simply shutter the Shopper, the Kallemeyns reached out to Mark Hornung of Southwest Community Publishing Co. to gauge Hornung’s interest in purchasing it. Southwest Community Publishing Co. operates five other family-owned weekly newspapers and has been instrumental in revitalizing them.
The Shopper offices will continue at their present location at 924 E. 162nd Street in South Holland. Existing Shopper employees will continue to produce the paper in the sales and graphic departments.
“I’m happy that Mark will continue to locate the Shopper offices in South Holland and retain our valuable employees,” said Arlo Kallemeyn. “The Shopper has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with many local businesses and readers in this area that will continue into the future.”
Partnerships and possibilities
The Shopper Group has also been a partner with The Lansing Journal since 2017, providing publishing, printing, and administrative services to the monthly print version of the newspaper. As part of the deal with The Shopper Group, Hornung expressed interest in purchasing the Shopper’s share of The Lansing Journal.
The Shopper Group, The Lansing Journal, and Southwest Community Publishing are all in the process of doing due diligence now, examining the books, interviewing affected staff, and analyzing processes to make plans for a healthy transition. As a small test of the proposed new working relationships, the March 4 issue of The Lansing Journal included an article by a member of the Southwest editorial staff, and layout was done by the Southwest design team.
The agreement is scheduled to be signed on March 25.
Assuming a successful transaction, the most obvious change will be in printing of both the Shopper and The Lansing Journal, as Southwest Community Publishing Co. will take over the printing and administrative functions of both papers.
Southwest prints on a Goss press in Palos Heights, a machine with different printing capabilities from the offset presses the Shopper has been using. As a result, the maximum number of color pages in each paper will be reduced from 16 to 4. This may impact advertising rates, though Hornung has maintained that he will do everything possible to ease existing customers into the new structure.
Endings and beginnings
Though the Kallemeyns are retiring from The Shopper, they will continue to work at the other businesses housed in the building at 930 E 162nd Street, South Holland. Park Press and Excel Printing & Mailing are two separate entities from the Shopper, and they will continue business operations at the South Holland location.
“Times have changed, and businesses have to change as well,” said Arlo Kallemeyn. “Mark brings many years of experience in the newspaper industry, and he has a real commitment to community journalism. I think he’ll be able to build on the solid foundation we’ve laid.
“It’s exciting to have someone interested in breathing new life into The Shopper.”
In addition, Hornung said, “We like this model of community news. We are honored to partner with Melanie and The Lansing Journal, as well as The Shopper, and continue to provide quality community journalism. At this moment in time, that means publishing a weekly Shopper and monthly Lansing Journal with daily digital updates. We don’t know exactly what the future will look like, but we can say with a high level of confidence that there will be even more community news in the future.”