URBANA — A new distributor is bringing the New York Times and other national newspapers to Champaign-Urbana starting on Monday, after a six-month absence.
Sunny News Delivery Service relaunching home delivery of the New York Times in Champaign-Urbana. The company is also returning the Times, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune to newsstands in the area. USA Today, which was previously sold on Champaign-Urbana newsstands, has not signed up for the new distribution service.
Sunny News Delivery owner Mark Templeton says it was the New York Times that brought him to the Champaign-Urbana market.
“We’ve created a good working relationship with the New York Times, when they have identified distressed markets, for whatever reason,” said Templeton, who says the Times is paying them a “tremendous” rates to take over distribution in Champaign-Urbana.
“They aren’t interested in letting these areas go,” he said. “They want to maintain their home delivery area, and they want to expand.”
The New York Times and other national and regional newspapers lost home delivery and newsstand service in Champaign-Urbana last November, when the News-Gazette, which handled local distribution, was acquired by new owners. The Community Media Group decided not to continue the distribution of the newspapers.
The newspapers are widely read online. At least two, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, have continued to deliver their print editions to local subscribers, using same-day mail service. A program providing free newspapers to students distributes national papers on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. But the newspapers disappeared from Champaign-Urbana newsstands, and home delivery of the New York Times and Chicago Tribune was halted.
Templeton says the News-Gazette has been helpful as he works to reestablish Champaign-Urbana distribution of the papers.
“It is a bit strange that a university city would have the national publications gone for such a long time,” he said. “But hopefully we’re on the right track now.”
Sunny News Delivery Service is based in Florida, and also distributes newspapers in parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.
Templeton says his target area is Champaign-Urbana, plus the nearby towns of Savoy and Mahomet. He says the national newspapers will first appear in chain stores such as Circle K, Walgreens and CVS, but he also hopes to restore delivery to locally owned stores as well. He says interested retailers in the Champaign-Urbana area can contact his company at 515-240-7791. (Champaign-Urbana residents interested in New York Times home delivery should contact the newspaper directly, at 1-800-NYTIMES.)
Newsstand sales for the national newspapers is returning to Champaign-Urbana in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and a statewide stay-at-home order that has put a damper on store traffic. But Templeton says that doesn’t worry him.
“I don’t expect sales are going to be tremendous at the start anyway,” said Templeton. “With everything down, it gave us the time to really put a lot of thought into this and get it going in such a short amount of time.”
Templeton says the return of national newspapers to Champaign-Urbana will restore three or four full-time jobs in the area. Sunny News Delivery Service is hiring the workers on a contract basis.
Jim Meadows is the senior reporter for Illinois Newsroom. Follow him @WILLJimMeadows.