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April 28, 2009 | last updated November 30, 2011 11:04 pm

Maine Home & Design buys, will relaunch Port City Life

A magazine founded to follow the arts and cultural scene in Portland will soon expand to a statewide, "urban-centric" focus, according to its new co-owner, Kevin Thomas.

Thomas and Susan Kelley, co-owners and publisher and editor, respectively, of the Portland-based magazine Maine Home and Design, finalized MH&D's purchase of Port City Life magazine April 23. Port City Life's nine-person staff, including former editor, publisher and owner, Laurie Hyndman, will all be retained, according to Thomas, and several sales, editorial and design independent contractors will be brought on staff, with benefits, to "create a stronger team," says Thomas.

Port City Life was founded in 1999 by Carolyn Cianchette, wife of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette, and was purchased by Hyndman in 2002. Under Hyndman, the magazine's circulation grew from 12,000 to 21,000, the publication rate increased to 10 times per year, and distribution was expanded to 35 newsstands around Maine. The magazine's 2008 revenue was around $750,000, according to Hyndman, and advertising revenue last year declined about 13% over 2007 and has stayed flat in 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

Port City Life rivals Portland's other major glossy, Portland Magazine, for content and advertising revenue, and, like Portland Magazine, has in recent years expanded its editorial reach to include coverage of arts and culture beyond the city limits. Thomas says the rivalry has limited Port City's advertising revenue because advertisers believe they have to choose one or the other publication, and he and Kelley are currently meeting with Port City Life staff to discuss alterations to Port City that will include changing its name to reflect a statewide focus. Thomas intends to boost the magazine's circulation to 30,000 this year, and sell it at MH&D's 720 newsstands in Maine, southern Connecticut and Massachusetts. Beginning with the May/June issue, Port City Life issues will be bundled with MH&D and sent to the latter's subscribers. The acquisition will allow MH&D to target lifestyle readers and advertisers and focus on an editorial product that, as Thomas says, takes "a now view of Maine." Maine Home and Design's success has convinced Thomas that there's a readership and advertising need in Maine for an urban-centric view of the state.

"All of our decisions really have been based on what we saw in Maine Home and Design," says Thomas. "We had all kinds of naysayers telling us that a shelter magazine could not make it in Maine and, in fact, we've had an ever-increasing advertising base."

The magazine joins a publication that since its founding in 2006 has held its own in a tough media market -- Maine Home and Design publishes 10 times a year, and has a circulation of 30,000 and a full-time staff of 10. Thomas declined to reveal revenue figures or the Port City Life purchase price.

Hyndman, who has written in the magazine about her struggle with breast cancer, says her health did not prompt the sale.

"It's just a great fit that we can build on each other's strengths," says Hyndman, who will continue on staff as managing editor. "Maine Home and Design really has the resources to take it to the next level."

Thomas says Port City Life magazine will be re-launched -- with its new name and a new design -- in September.

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