My, how times have changed. In 1997, when the City Paper was born, Charleston was yet to be a perennial best on those dastardly Conde Nast lists, tourists kept to themselves on Market Street, and there was one college bar on Upper King Street where dark and abandoned storefronts were more plentiful than open businesses. Rents were cheap, bars were open all night long, and Granny's Goodies — our first advertiser — was a mecca of hippie weirdness.
Despite its general shabbiness, Charleston's rebirth was already pulsing underneath. College apartments were being built on Warren Street. The American Theater had just been renovated and was showing movies again. They even had a virtual reality game room upstairs. Talk about futuristic!
For us — the now-former owners of the Charleston City Paper — being a part of Charleston's modern renaissance these last two decades as small business owners, running a newspaper that was more about the fun stuff going on than the bad stuff happening, was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Not only did we get to observe Charleston transform from a sleepy Southern town into a much-less-sleepy Southern town, but sometimes we had influence on that change too, writing stories and conducting investigations that highlighted issues and problems that weren't being looked at by the daily newspaper, which at the time was way more entrenched in the South of Broad aristocracy than it is these days.
Selling our scrappy little newspaper to new owners has not been an easy decision to make. Over the years, we've had plenty of offers to purchase the newspaper but none of them felt quite as right as that of Andy Brack and Ed Bell.
As a longtime editorial contributor to Charleston media, Brack understands intimately how important an alternative voice is to a small town. He understands how fortunate we are to actually have a media landscape in Charleston that continues to thrive. And he's partnered with a businessman like Ed Bell, who has the resources and smarts to usher the paper into the future.
And we know that Charleston City Paper will continue to thrive under their direction. Our reasons for selling are more personal than anything else, as life's challenges have come our way.
While ownership is changing, what won't change is our desire for the paper to succeed. We'll be here if Andy and Ed need us — Noel and Stephanie as consultants, Blair as advertising director — and we'll continue to be part of the Charleston community. We thank our staff, contributors, clients, writers, and friends, past and present, for being a part of this journey and we look forward to seeing the Charleston City Paper continue to do important work, providing an alternative voice for Charleston for another 20 years.
Noel, Stephanie, and Blair founded Charleston City Paper in 1997.