January 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of The Lake-Front Magazine. Owners Skip & Linda Carr of Friendsville, MD have nurtured the publication (often referred to as their 2nd child) through recessions, up seasons and down, and most recently, of course, Covid-19. Although there have been many changes in the area during that time, one thing has remained constant…the support of advertisers and readers,helping to make The Lake-Front one of the premier publications in the area.
Linda first started visiting Deep Creek in 1984, and like thousands before and after, fell in love with the place and the people. After some travelling, she settled in Ocean City, MD where she met Skip. Linda knew Skip, a native New Englander, would love Garrett County as much as she did and when the opportunity presented itself, the couple moved here. The two married in 1987 and welcomed their only child, Caitlin, in 1989.
Both licensed realtors at the time, the couple held jobs in both sales and management. A graduate from WVU with a degree in Journalism, Linda loved feature writing and was looking for a way to get back into her chosen profession. Her college roommate (and dear friend) Patrice Wray had just started her own publication in Ocean City and offered to help LInda do the same. With Skip’s background in business and sales, they made a good team to start a new business.
The couple wanted to produce a publication that appealed to visitors to the area as well as locals and second homeowners. They talked to local business owners about what THEY wanted to see in an area publication and incorporated many of their ideas…many of which are still used today including the map, directory of advertisers and guides to make finding information about advertisers easy.
The Lake-Front’s first issue debuted in January 1991 and had just 24 pages. The Feature Story was about Schoolhouse Earth original owners Tom and Nancy Graham and the first business spotlight featured Domenick’s Pizzeria and owner Brenda McDonnell, who now has four businesses…and still advertises in The Lake-Front. Schoolhouse Earth has also been a loyal advertiser since the beginning.
The magazine grew at a fast pace until 2007, reaching 128 pages that summer. At that time, there were also several start up publications competing with the magazine but The Lake-Front was one of the few to survive. The popularity of the internet and social media companies also has forced change among the entire printing industry and the couple has adapted to that as well. PDF versions of The Lake-Front and Menu Guide can be found at lakefrontmagazine.com and they debuted an updated version of deepcreekdining.com which features up to date information and web links to their advertisers.
Looking back at some of the original issues, Skip and Linda are proud that so many of their advertisers have been with them since the beginning. The first issue featured ads from Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Pharmacy, The Tourist Trap, JG’s Pub…all of whom STILL advertise today. Other businesses that advertised that first year include Railey Realty, Little Sandy’s, Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, Western Trails, and The Silver Tree Restaurant (now Dutch’s at Silver Tree). “The fact that these businesses are still here is a testament to the community. We all support each other,” said Linda.
Other long term advertisers from the early 1990’s include Denny’s in Oakland, WKHJ Radio, Deer Park Inn, Grand Central Station, Flying Scot, Smiley’s Pizzeria and FunZone (then known as Frontier Adventure Golf), and Funland. “Some of our biggest supporters have been with us since their opening including Lakeside Creamery, Brenda’s Pizzeria, and Market Square.
Flipping through those early issues also brought back memories of those businesses that aren’t around anymore. Stray Cat Cafe, Dr. Willy’s Seafood, Lakeview Motors, Fox’s Pizza at the lake, The Silkscreener, Kathy’s Furniture, Clutter Realty, Josie’s Bakery & Restaurant, Johnny’s Bait House, S&H Marine, Manufacturer’s Outlet, and two staples of the lake, McClive’s Restaurant and the Point View Inn.
“We have been so blessed in this endeavor,” says Linda. “Not only have we built a successful business, publishing the magazine has led to many lifelong friendships” According to Carr,. another amazing aspect of the business has been the opportunity to meet so many Garrett County business owners and follow them on their entrepreneurial journey. “Skip and I have met and / or interviewed many of the county’s business owners. It’s a thrill to talk with somebody who is embarking on a lifelong dream — and even better when it’s a success.”
“Our main idea was to focus on businesses and members of the community. We were the first publication to write articles about individual businesses, something that is pretty commonplace today.” The Lake-Front has always been a source of news, events and information, and have long worked with other organizations within the community to help publicize events. Of course, the most read column in the magazine is the ever-popular musings of “Skip Around Town” and his travels throughout the community. He has written about the area and the events, people and places that make Garrett County unique. His home-town approach and (mostly true) observations about life here have won him legions of fans…as one client once noted: “like Facebook before there was Facebook.”
The goal of their company, CLS Ventures (named after Caitlin, Linda and Skip, of course) has always been to meet the needs of the community. In 2002 they were approached by the Chamber of Commerce and local restaurant owners about the idea of starting a separate publication for dining options. And so, The Menu Guide, was born. That magazine was first released in May 2003 and is a great way to focus on your dining options before heading out the door.
Partnering with Patrice again (who also does graphic design work for the magazines), they became a print brokerage, working with various companies throughout the United States offering printed materials and promotional products and have provided rack cards, brochures, menus, glassware, mugs, calendars and other promotional products to a variety of businesses in the county. Best part of purchasing from the Carrs — products are delivered directly to you!
“As we enter our 31st year of publication, our wish is for all of our readers and clients, a very Healthy and Happy New Year,” says Skip. “Here’s to 2021!” A man of many thoughts and few words…or many words and few thoughts….well, you know, says “See you on The Lake-Front”.