As we ring in 2014, we welcome a milestone; our 100th issue of San Joaquin Magazine. For almost 12 years we’ve brought positive, inspiring stories right into the homes and businesses throughout San Joaquin. We thank you for embarking on this journey with us. We look forward to 100 more!
Thirteen years ago, Tony Zoccoli lost almost everything. It was the height of the dot-com boom (or, as Tony calls it, “dot-gone”), and like many, he invested everything he owned (including his house) in his print and internet company. And one day it was here, and gone the next, as if in a scene from a movie. Where a lesser man may have thrown in the towel, Tony, a family man with 2 toddlers and a newborn son, saw an opportunity. With more than 15 years of creative design, deliving into web development as welll as sitting on the Tracy Chamber of Commerce board, he started witnessing the uphill battle the city was facing. A lot of the projects and growth that were expected had now fallen through. According to Tony, “There was really no idea where the city was going.” There was no real way for people to find out what was happening in their city either. At the time, there were only 2 local newspapers for local happenings and those were the only means to advertise in that reached people. Having been a graphic designer since age 17 with a ton of experience in print publishing, Tony thought, “I’m going to come up with a local guide where people can find out what’s going on all over the city.”
Just like that, Inside Tracy magazine was born. The quarterly newsprint color guide with a glossy front cover featured an events calendar, event details, inspirational stories and ads to help local businesses get their names out into the community. “For two years, I published the magazine with a bare bones staff – a sales rep, a writer and me – but we didn’t make money,” Tony says. He helped support his family with a graphic design business he kept open on the side and his wife, Valerie, ran a small retail store. While the residents of Tracy loved the magazine, critics couldn’t understand Tony’s full vision to create a full-size lifestyle publication in an area that some felt “didn’t deserve it”.
Two years later, however, he expanded the publication to include the surrounding cities and renamed the magazine Inside San Joaquin, which later became San Joaquin Magazine. By this point, the magazine was wider at 9 inches completely full color and gloss throughout. Tony designed his new labor of love to be competitive with lifestyle magazines in other larger cities throughout California. It brought the best of what San Joaquin had to offer every month, right into the homes of local residents. Over time, he would expand even further by creating several other local guides and magazines including San Joaquin Weddings magazine, San Joaquin Parent & Kids, a Home & Garden Magazine, as well as a new Valley Lifestyles Magazine in Phoenix.
Our entire team is very excited to be celebrating the 100th issue of San Joaquin Magazine. “No other lifestyle magazine has done that in San Joaquin County,” he beams. He chalks this accomplishment up to the heart and soul behind himself and his staff. The San Joaquin Magazine staff lives and breathes the area, and the magazine. Tony explains that their passion and talent held within this small staff is reflected through every glossy page of the magazine. “You tell us what you like, and we listen. We are 100 percent positive. In our everyday lives we are inundated by negative stories; but here, you get an awful lot of positive and uplifting information. We showcase restaurants, local trends, people who do important things in the community, charities, local events…People or places people don’t know about get featured, and we take people behind the scenes.”
Over the years, San Joaquin Magazine has had many memorable covers, some thought controversial. In the second issue of Inside Tracy, Tony chose a photo of his young son, Lucas, standing on an 8-foot stretch of broken off railroad track that was lying in a field outside of his home. He remembers many people being outraged that he would put a child playing on dangerous tracks on the cover of a community magazine. Another was a cover of two Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters who were brothers with the title, “Bound By Blood”. Tony recalls this one sparking debate about what constituted positive coverage. A few of Tony’s favorite covers featured legendary left-handed baseball pitcher Vida Blue, astronaut Jose Hernandez, American Idol contestant Thia Megia, and the May history editions with old photographs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. While the magazine has enjoyed accolades and success, Tony wants to make one thing clear: “People think we are a very big company, have lots of staff, and that we make a lot of money. The truth is we have a very small to keep costs down so ad prices remain affordable.” In fact, until very recently when the demand became too great, Tony offered complimentary subscriptions to all San Joaquin residents. He says his main objective is to help businesses succeed and keep the economy of the area he loves thriving. “We are doing a lot of educating business owners. A lot of people think if they are open, people will come to their store. Many don’t think they need to advertise, or they pick the cheapest method without taking into account circulation or saturation. Tony states, “you need to constantly promote your business. Find diferent ways to promote your business. “Yes I am partial to lifestyle magazines, but they really work. People always pick up magazines, they keep them, refer back to them, and he tells clients to not just choose one. The internet is not the only way to go, its an additonal way. Tony has no problem discussing with clients the opportunities available out there, and how best they can promote themselves within a small budget. With just a vast knowledge of creative design, marketing and web skills, he can quickly get your business get the results it deserves. Its simple, if you don’t promote, you dwindle. You are never immune to becoming too popular of a place. ” He advises large and small, old and new businesses to promote – whether in a magazine or through some other outlet – to keep their company in the forefront of people’s minds and keep business booming.
here’s to another 100 issues!