For sale: The Rake

Wanna buy The Rake? The raconteurish free monthly and its attendant website can be yours for a mere $395,000, according to this listing. (PDF) [UPDATE: the link was taken down this morning.]

True, the ad doesn’t actually say it’s The Rake, but it is, according to a non-MinnPost source with knowledge of the details but not authorization to talk. Asked to confirm, publisher Tom Bartel wouldn’t; “I really don’t have anything to say to you on any front,” he said.

There is circumstantial corroboration: The listing cites a 60,000 circulation — precisely what The Rake claims — and a founding date of 2001, when the magazine’s staff was first assembled.

The seller appears eager: If you’re willing to plunk down a hair less than $400,000, you’ll also get — cue Bob Barker — equipment valued at $220,000. The ad says the operation brings in $1.1 million a year, with just 16 employees, so you’re getting a lean, mean shop.

You will not only own one widely distributed and sometimes cheeky magazine, but the considerable web talents of Wolves analyst Britt Robson (so good he’s parodied in The Onion!), wine/dining mavens Jeremy Iggers and Ann Bauer, and of course the late-night perambulations of Brad Zellar. We don’t know what Dude Weather might make of this, having leapt from the mothballed Daily Mole just a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t know how long the ad’s been up, although rumors of The Rake’s sale/demise/reconfiguration have defied gravity for months. (Two months ago, Bartel told me a web-only operation had been considered, but all the revenue was in print.) Should the title somehow go begging and be shuttered, salesfolk at or the other monthlies might relish one fewer competitor, plus a tingle of schadenfreude at seeing an oft-snarky rival laid low.

As I’ve written before, The Rake’s relevance too often falls short of its attitude; I often find myself scratching my head over un-urgent cover stories, though some have sparkled, such as the mag’s prescient piece on 9/11 tipsters or its fascinating look into Minneapolis murders. Bartel has a knack for finding — and funding — original voices that other outlets might pick up, but if his exit means one less place for them, we’re all a bit poorer.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Greg Seitz on 02/21/2008 - 09:38 am.

    Interesting. I used to think the Rake was the best thing in town, but then Hans Eibens left and, rather than replace him, Bartel took the reins himself. The pub immediately and seriously declined in quality, IMHO. From his non-sensical letters from the editor to the hemorrhaging of all the best columnists, it was sad to see it go from something fresh and challenging to something that is overly-esoteric at best, and boring most of the time.

  2. Submitted by Brad Cook on 02/21/2008 - 09:59 am.

    The American Heritage Dictionary defines a rake as, “An immoral or dissolute person; a libertine,” which is why I’ve always been disappointed in that painfully middle-of-the-road magazine. They occasionally run some interesting pieces — especially now that they employ some Strib & CP castoffs — but they consistently fail to live up to their name. Perhaps a better moniker would have been, “Harmless Gardening Implement.”

  3. Submitted by Derek Reise on 02/21/2008 - 02:19 pm.

    Strange. I always thought the Rake was quite good. Frankly, it’s the best free periodical in the Twin Cities. Certainly better than the weeklies City Pages and

    I know nothing about the difficult and crowded field of local media, but I was surprised how cheap it is being offered for.

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