It takes a village idiot: Update on former Salisbury resident Ken Gottfried
By Sarah Hall
Every village has its idiot, and cities all across North Carolina have The Village Idiot Magazine.
Described as the “ultimate event magazine,” it can be found in restaurants and other businesses throughout the state, from Wilmington to Asheville, covering happenings in every city in between.
Salisburians who pick up a copy may see a familiar name ó that is, if they have lived here more than 15 years. The publisher is Ken Gottfried, Expressions store founder and former Salisbury resident and city council candidate.
He moved to Boone 15 years ago, where he opened his second Expressions. According to a recent ad (in The Village Idiot), Expressions stores are now “bettering the lives of millions of people” in Chapel Hill, Greenville, Greensboro, Morehead City and Wilmington.
Some Salisbury citizens may have looked askance at the first Expressions, with its intriguing, and sometimes titillating, inventory. Others probably thought it wouldn’t last long. Instead, Gottfried has ridden high on the novelty wave.
And as if heading a successful chain of stores and a statewide publication wasn’t enough, he now also owns “Go Postal,” a packaging store which he says is “like a UPS store, but better,” and he owns commercial and residential developments.
Asked how he manages to do so much, Gottfried laughs that his sister calls him “ADHD”ó that’s “ADD in high definition.”
Gottfried is married and has three children.
In the beginning The Village Idiot was intended to be a political forum as much as a music magazine. But the free publication is necessarily ad-driven. Outspoken political views can sometimes conflict with those of advertisers. So it has become more music- and entertainment-centered.
Gottfried says that before starting The Village Idiot, he was spending thousands of dollars on Expressions ads, but wasn’t satisfied that he was getting the best return from advertising in conventional media.
He decided to advertise more directly to his store’s demographics ó college students, tourists, people looking for entertainment, people with disposable income ó with a magazine featuring types of articles that appeal to those groups.
For example, the April 2008 issue included articles about bands, alternative health, reviews of CDs, DVDs and movies and an article about the importance of voting.
Christopher Wells serves as editor, and Rob Moore is art director and photographer. Like Gottfried, Moore is a former Rowan County resident who now resides in Boone.
Even though The Village Idiot has become less of a vehicle for his views, Gottfried still doesn’t mind telling people what he thinks. The perennial candidate, who ran for Salisbury city council in 1993, for a N.C. House District 40 seat in 1996, for governor of North Carolina in 2000, has no qualms about expressing himself. He doesn’t expect to be taken very seriously as a candidate, but what better way of achieving a forum for his views than by running for political office?
The years have not softened Gottfried’s rhetoric. The former Salisbury bad boy didn’t hold back in a recent interview, when he said he would “vote for Osama bin Laden before he would ever vote for a Republican again.”
“And you can quote me on that,” he said.
He said he used to vote for the person, not the party, but given the events of the last 12 years (when Republicans gained control of the Senate) “never again.”
Gottfried has demonstrated that a person can be both a town character and savvy businessman. People may not agree with or approve of his extreme views, but Gottfried is no idiot when it comes to business.
Locally, you can find The Village Idiot at Wal-Mart, Shananagans Irish Pub, The Monterey Mexican Restaurant and Expressions.
Can’t find a copy of The Village Idiot? Members can have it delivered to their home. The Village Idiot is also available online at www.the-idiot.com.