This month we sat down with Mr. Kirk Blair, General Manager of the Texarkana Gazette. The Gazette recently moved it's administrative and editorial staff from Pine Street to the Landmark Building on Broad Street. The paper has been in downtown Texarkana since its inception.
1. How long have you worked in downtown Texarkana?
I have worked downtown for the Gazette for 35 years. I'm from Texarkana, though, and both of my parents owned businesses downtown, one on Broad Street and one on Third Street. As a boy I was down here every day after school, so I have almost 60 years of history with downtown.
2. When the Gazette was looking for a new office to move into, were there ever any locations on the table that weren't downtown?
Yes, we looked at several properties that weren't downtown. One factor for us was the traffic that we have each day, we have over 90 employees and over 100 newspaper carriers that come each night to get the papers to distribute, plus people from the community come in to place classified ads, drop off church bulletin news, etc. We wanted to remain where they could easily get to us. And while we don't have to be near our production facility, it is nice to be close. We feel optimistic about the new businesses opening or moving downtown and the Texarkana Gazette is looking forward to continuing to be a part of that downtown growth.
3. Do you have a favorite downtown moment or memory?
As a boy I loved to fish. My favorite place to go was Timberlake Hardware, which used to be on Main Street, to buy fishing tackle. The owner, James Timberlake, knew me and I could walk around downtown, as an 11 or 12-year old, and visit different places. We all knew each other, there was a real sense of community downtown at that time.
4. Can you tell us anything interesting you've found in your building?
Well, the old building that still houses our production equipment, on Pine Street, used to be a Studebaker dealership years ago. Upstairs, you can still see mens' names painted on the walls where the mechanics for the dealership had their lockers.
5. What do you want people to know about your business?
Newspapers are alive and doing well. We're reinventing ourselves and instead of just delivering the print paper everyone thinks of, we deliver the news to tablets, mobile devices and desktop computers as well. We have more readers now than ever. We're the only business that I know of that creates a new product, and gets it out, on a daily basis.
Thank you, Mr. Blair! You can keep up with the Gazette online through their website TexarkanaGazette.com or by following them on Facebook @TexarkanaGazette and Instagram @texarkana_gazette.