It’s nice to see media coverage of a map publisher or store that doesn’t involve it going out of business. The Seattle Times looks at a local institution, the Kroll Map Company, which has been mapping the city and its environs for more than a century, and its current owner, John Loacker.
The survival of a company like Kroll is a small act of rebellion against the forces reshaping the city by the day. And yet lately, John has wondered what will become of the business his grandfather bought in 1920 and his father worked at for 72 years. John is also a co-owner of Metsker Maps, a retail store in Pike Place Market, but he leaves the day-to-day operations there to others. He is the sole owner of Kroll.
“I have to craft my exit,” he says.
South African cartographer Peter Slingsby, got a profile in the South African newsmagazine Financial Mail last month; his company, Slingsby Maps, produces a number of “mildly eccentric” hiking and tourist maps that contain “the idiosyncratic asides and flourishes that make Slingsby’s maps such a pleasure to consult.”
On his incredibly popular map of the Cape Peninsula, for example, there are helpful little clouds of information among the place names and contours. One such tells of the people of Brooklands, who lived on the tableland above Simon’s Town. “The Brooklands community, who farmed here and worked in Simon’s Town, were evicted under apartheid because they were not ‘white’. The ruins of their village are their monument,” says the bubble.
Another tale of a traditional map publisher surviving in the face of Google Maps, GPS and smartphones from the Star Tribune, which profiled Minneapolis mapmaker Tom Hedberg earlier this month. Hedberg Maps’s traditional map products sell a fraction of what they used to, and they have fewer employees than they used to, but the company survives, the article says, by focusing on niche publications, like college and sports maps, and custom mapmaking, though their online store still has plenty of street maps. [MAPS-L]