By Ted Perkins
For the Hollywood Star News
At the end of July, Star News advertising director Larry Peters stepped down after twelve years of service to the Northeast and North Portland business community and accepted a position with a national chain that specializes in active-lifestyle marketing.
“Larry will be missed,” said Star News publisher Mary DeHart. “He’s become an integral part of our team and is like family. We’ll miss his dry sense of humor and his commitment to promoting local businesses to our readers and neighbors. We wish him well in his next adventure.”
Peters took a few moments to reflect on his time at the Star and the changes he’s seen in the Northeast and North Portland business community.
When did you start at the Star and what was it like then? How is it different now?
Peters: I started in May 2004. I had been out of work and taking care of our son, Jackson. I called the Hollywood Boosters president at that time, Mark Halvorson, and he invited me to a Booster lunch. The first meeting was snowed out by the blizzard and ice storm we had in January of 2004. I don’t remember if I called again or Mark did, but we rescheduled. I met Lisa Perkins, who was working at the Star then and gave her my resume. Some time later, I got a call, interviewed with Mary DeHart, and became a Star.
Back then, I didn’t really use a computer for work. Just lots of phone calls, some faxes, and face-to-face action. We were in the Krohn Building at 46th and Sandy. So, lower-tech but still well loved by the community.
How did you get into the ad game? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Peters: When I was young, I wanted to be tall! That did not happen. Newspapers and advertising were a natural fit. I always enjoyed writing and the news. I’ll talk to anyone. So, sales is a natural. Also I got turned down a lot when I was single, so cold calls and hearing “no” was not a problem for me.
I majored in advertising after three years of fooling around in college at UC Santa Barbara and Foothill Junior College. I went to the School of Journalism and Communications office at San Jose State and debated majoring in journalism or advertising. I minored in music. I worked at a weekly paper right out of college and have been in the business (mostly) ever since. I wrote newspaper ads for Fred Meyer for a while, too.
How has working at the Star connected you with your community and what have you learned about the challenges of running a neighborhood business?
Peters: I totally respect small-business owners. I have learned that I will never run a restaurant. It is really hard work. Anyone who has success running a restaurant impresses me. Retail and service businesses are similar. The owners and managers do it ALL. There are lots of taxes and fees and unseen costs so my hat’s off to them. On the upside, you see people running businesses, hiring locals, adding to the community, economically and in other ways and having a definite, positive effect on the neighborhood and the city. Getting involved in charitable activities and taking pride in the area.
For 12 years, I got paid to check out neighborhood businesses. When you are commuting or in an office all day, you don’t get to do that. So, that’s pretty cool. Becoming in people’s minds a resource for growing their businesses and getting the word out about their organizations is something I’m proud of. People grew to feel that they could rely on me.
What was Northeast Portland like when you started and how has it changed?
Peters: My wife and I moved here 17 years ago. After two weeks downtown as part of a relocation package, we have been in Northeast the whole time. It HAS changed. Houses are more expensive. More traffic. It is harder to park. More hipsters with long beards and urban chickens. Many neighborhoods have grown and changed. But there is something in Northeast Portland that if I could, I would bottle and sell. People are sincerely interested and invested in their communities, the schools, the senior population, the different organizations and nonprofits and churches and such, the quality of life. You don’t get that everywhere you go. I am also proud of my son’s high school, Madison, and all the great stuff that goes on there, the music program especially. They’re trending upwards at that school.
Any favorite customers or advertising campaigns that you’re especially proud of?
Peters: Aw heck. That’s not fair, but here goes: I always enjoyed talking to Gordon at Gordon’s Fireplace. I never met him in person until recently. Very nice man. Noel at Celtic Corner, the crew at Violet’s and A Children’s Place Bookstore are just a few. My first month, I sold a four-page ad section for the Boosters. That was a good start. Twice, I think both on Alberta Street, people ran out of their store when they saw me and said “I need to talk to you about advertising!” So, it was good to know I was known for that – and a good problem to have as a salesman when people are chasing you down! But, this is like an Oscar speech. If I start mentioning names, I will leave some important ones out. I’ll just say that 99.5 percent of my interactions with folks have been great and I have met many people, learned about their businesses, and hopefully served the community in my own way.
What’s the best thing about working for the Star and what will you miss the most?
Peters: People LOVE the Star. As a salesman, it was an easy “in” once I said where I was from. We, as a community, are lucky to have the Star. It’s a quality publication. It serves its purpose and serves it well. It is a resource and a part of people’s lives and it is made possible by local business advertising. It is a true “win-win,” a partnership that serves everyone. I’ll miss being part of that effort.
I will also miss the high-tech door fob to get into the Star office building. Very fancy! I’ll miss Mary and the staff. I will miss the clients and different business lunches and stuff. The folks at Hollywood Professional Center who have to put up with my jokes and off-the-wall behavior. I still live in Northeast, so I hope to keep in touch!
Any parting thoughts?
Peters: In a way, it hasn’t hit me yet that I am leaving. In another way, it has, but still there are waves that will hit me when I am further down the beach. I ask that businesses continue to support the Star. It is vital to keep this resource around and healthy. I am sure I am changed, in a better way, for the twelve years I have been here and humbled enough to know I have no idea what’s going to happen next.