GTWoman’s Computer Sale Decision

We are celebrating 9 years with this issue. Nine! Can you believe it? We can’t either! We will be celebrating at our Sept. 12 Network Nite. It will be a fine time, complete with birthday cake, to reminisce about our little tiny beginning that involved a Monte Carlo and a computer sale.

Let’s set the scene: Two hysterical twin sisters, entrenched in another week of sleepless nights, one with a newborn, the other with a toddler, sitting in the parking lot outside of the Computer Haus in Traverse City. Time? A half-hour before closing on the final day of the year, Dec. 31, 2002.

The shop had one computer left on sale, last year’s model, the master machine of all magazine designers worldwide – the Apple. Priced at just $2,000. Two grand! Would the two panicked sisters drop that much moula and actually launch a magazine?

Here’s a glimpse inside the white Monte Carlo, a car worth little more than the computer itself:

“Are we gutsy enough to do this?”
“Of course we have the guts. The question is, are we stupid enough to do this?”
“Stupid? We got stupid in spades.”

At this point, we got stoked on our ability to make a mistake with a steady and mighty hand. Next, we had to decide how to finance this business idea, a plan sketched out on a few sheets of yellow legal paper in our hands. All while the green digital clock ticked on the dashboard. Snow was piling up on the windshield, the short winter day was leaning in, waiting on what would happen at the stroke of 5.

“Tomorrow is New Year’s Day; they’ll be closed…”
“And we’ll have to suffer through one more day of indecision.”
“Worse, the computer sale might be over.”

This was no Kohl’s coupon (Kohl’s did not exist in the Traverse City conscious yet). This was a much weightier decision. Neither of us had $2k lying around to lose. But we had credit and could agree, with eyes bright and shiny with hope, to lose one thousand dollars each if this magazine tanked before the ink was dry.

But it wasn’t this that hung over us in the car that day. The most telling indecision was who would keep the computer if we didn’t make it.

Looking back, that was possibly what the whole success of GTWoman hinged on. The inability of a set of twin sisters to come to any kind of agreement that didn’t part out dividends to the exact penny. If pressed, neither would be willing to take on the debt of the computer alone, nor give up ownership in half of it.
The only choice, thanks to a stubborn streak, was to make the magazine fly.

That $2,000 un-splitable-in-half computer was the start. The rest, we bartered. We bartered for a website, we bartered for business cards, we bartered with photographers and ad designers who wanted to get their name out. We put together a prototype in a three-ring binder and asked a couple of women to write sample articles to showcase. Whoa. A three-ring binder, you say? Yes. We know.

The things that didn’t cost money came in great quantity after that: bad ideas, good ideas, arguments, laughter, success, failure and then, again, success.

Now nine years and four computers later, we still laugh about those final few frantic moments in the Monte Carlo and the day we made our first and best uninformed, crazy, reckless business decision together.