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.
MacVan General Manager Bob Stanley, one of two remaining employees of a company that once employed nearly 20 people, said this week he and owner Ken Field agonized for four months, trying to find way to keep the company alive.
“We were just looking for a path to stay open. We went through the books, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It (the business) just wasn’t paying for itself,” Stanley said. “I just want to thank our customers. We appreciate their loyalty. They have always been great to work with.”
MacVan is best known for “The Book,” its annual spiral-bound collection of detailed maps of the Colorado Springs area that has been a staple for real estate agents, delivery drivers, police and firefighters and even journalists. The company operates a retail store at 1045B Garden of the Gods Road and produces more than 40 different maps for cities along the Colorado Front Range and Western Slope, a telephone directory called the “Ute Pass Gold Book” for Teller County and parts of El Paso and Park counties as well as advertising and custom real estate maps.
Last month the New York Times had a profile of New York Nautical, a store specializing in nautical charts, publications, instruments and related goodies in Manhattan’s Tribeca district. If you’re wondering how they stay in business—because that’s inevitable when talking about a store that’s in the business of selling paper maps today—it turns out that most of their business comes from commercial ships buying charts required by the Coast Guard. [WMS]
Always sad to see a map store close, but these are not unfamiliar reasons: the age and ill health of the proprietor felled Alaska’s Observatory Books; and Seattle’s Wide World Books and Maps fell victim to online shopping.