The Source shuts down

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Despite their clouded history in Nashville, representatives from The Source, a directory for the GLBT community, continue to solicit local businesses about advertising with them.

Last year, local businesses were asked to advertise in Nashville ’s premier edition of The Source, a directory published by Three Dollar Bill, Inc. and headquartered in Minneapolis , Minnesota . As O&AN reported in November of last year, The Source arrived three months late with contested claims about its delay, and the number of copies actually printed, leaving advertisers both frustrated and disappointed.

The main offices for The Source , as well as for owner Donna Gimbut’s other GLBT publication Living OUT Newspaper, have been closed for weeks. Their phone number in Minneapolis leads to a voicemail box which is full. Their Web site, www.gaysource.com, does not load at all, and gives no information such as that the site is under construction or will return as of a certain date. A notice on the door of their headquarters says they planned to re-open on August 16, 2005 . That deadline, though, has passed with no changes.

O&AN contacted the companies that print The Source and Living OUT. A representative from Moore and Wallace Printing admitted that Three Dollar Bill, Inc., has had “financial difficulties” but avoided the issue by stating that she had been advised by her legal department not to go into details.

Another publisher, ECM Publishers, said that Living OUT stopped being printed with them as of June 1, 2005 . ECM has not heard anything from Donna Gimbut or Living OUT.

Several of last year’s Nashville The Source advertisers were contacted in June and July about advertising in the next edition of The Source . Well-respected advertisers in the GLBT community, such as OutLoud! and Bart Durham, are not planning to risk any money on The Source this year.

“We weren’t interested, of course,” says Joe Brant, with OutLoud! Department Store. (The phone number for the sales representative who contacted Brant now forwards to the same voicemail box which has been full for several weeks.)

But Nashville advertisers are not the only ones who have been disappointed by TheSource’s inability to deliver what it promised.

“I’m so upset with these people,” says Laura Wallach, a Minneapolis real estate agent. “I turned in a consumer complaint form at the Minneapolis Attorney General’s office. I’m not sure what else I can do. Some people tell me I should be filing a law suit.”

Wallach bought a display ad in the 2005-2006 edition of The Source. She was told by her sales people that the directory would be ready in time to be distributed at the Minneapolis Pride celebration in June.

“I was there looking for The Source and I couldn’t find it anywhere…I called Three Dollar Bill and they said it hadn’t been printed yet, and they were running late.”

Wallach decided to investigate for herself and found that the directory had had problems in other cities, including Nashville. She also became friends with TheSource’s sales people in Minneapolis, but they told her that the company was shutting down and that their paychecks had bounced.

“I start wondering,” says Wallach, “from some of the strange stuff people have told me, was this an accident and they mismanaged their money and didn’t know how to run their company, or was this maybe fraud? I can’t prove that yet…this just looks like a pattern to me.”

Wallach is still waiting to hear from Three Dollar Bill, Inc., or to see if the advertisement she paid for will ever appear in print.

Wallach may be waiting for a while, but she will not have been the only one. For example, in Chicago , advertisers have been waiting for their advertisements to run for over a year. Marcia Hundt is the business manager for Case Handyman & Remodeling in Chicago . After being approached by sales people from The Source , she bought a $500 ad in July of 2004.

“They asked for the money upfront,” Hundt recalls.

There were several errors on the proof The Source sent her, but when she tried to fax them the corrections, the fax number was not working. Their Chicago phone number had been disconnected. Hundt has since contacted the Better Business Bureau, the Chicago Attorney General, and the Minneapolis Attorney General, but she still has not heard from The Source or seen one copy of the directory distributed in Chicago .

The words of another Minneapolis advertiser echo the sentiments of the many Nashville businesses who felt that they were taken advantage of by The Source.

Matt Dosser, of Matt’s Tree Service, says, “T hese are people who took advantage of a community that right now is looking for equal treatment. The GLBT community sticks together and economically supports people who support them… these people took advantage of that and that’s wrong, that’s immoral. Their behavior was despicable, and it disgusts me.”