(Elk, Grove, CA) The sky-blue cover with the retro bikini-clad flag girl grabs ones attention immediately. The bold graphic at the top of the magazine stating GEARHEAD leaves no doubt– the much-loved magazine from the early 90s is back!.
After a an eight year hiatus brought on by the collapse of the economy, changing consumer demands and differing visions for the business, current editor/publisher Rev. Michelle Haunold thought long and hard before attempting to revive the magazine that was a touch stone for hot-rodders, underground rockers and kustom culture enthusiasts alike.
“So much has changed since the magazine was last published,” exclaims Haunold. “The disappearance of local book and record stores, changing consumer demands regarding how they access media, printing costs, promotions….” She lets her voice lapse. “ I really wondered if there would still be a demand and a market for something as retro as GEARHEAD.”
Since the gap in publishing the magazine caused long-time advertisers to look else where, Haunold was left with launching a crowd-funding campaign to raise the financing to print the magazine. After three long months putting together a KICKSTARTER campaign, she did what she always did to generate interest and support–she tapped into her long-time fan base.
Through guerilla marketing and promotional techniques which included writing press-releases, sending out newsletters, posting on social media, calling old customers and visiting former retail and wholesale accounts, the campaign ended successfully with Haunold raising enough money to pay for the old-school style web-press printing that was a hallmark of the magazine. Less than 30% of Kickstarter campaigns fund successfully, so Haunold took this as a good sign.
“People came out of the woodwork and were so supportive and excited,” said Haunold, a wide smile breaking across her face. “It really made me feel good, like I wasn’t walking into uncharted territory after all.”
Despite Haunold’s lack of publishing experience, the magazine came out on deadline and is now available to the public for the first time since going dormant back in 2009. But first she had to use her guerilla marketing skills to sell the new issue.
“I have lots of ideas for future issues, but first I have to sell this one,” laughs Haunold. The magazine is available from several local book and record stores, including Newsbeat in Davis, CA, Phono Select Records and So-Cal Speed Shop in Sacramento.
Stories include a behind the scene look at the Yolo County Demolition Derby, an interview with L.A. based garage rockers The Lords of Altamont, and some final words from the legendary car kustomizer George Barris, who got his start in Sacramento. Sales nationwide are gaining speed as former retailers come on board. And of course, mail-order customers have been snatching up the limited edition printing of 2500 copies at a steady pace through the company’s website gearheadhq.com.
The magazine will be for sale digitally in the near future, but Haunold wants to give the printed version time to sell first. “I put a lot of thought into how the physical presence of the magazine would look. I kept it old school, with a color cover and black and white guts, but I printed it on book-quality paper, so it has a really nice texture and smell to it. You can’t get that with a digital download, “ said Haunold with a grimace.
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,