When my son Josh and I signed the final papers and became the new owners of the iconic Dan’s Papers, the first request I made to Richard Burns, from whom we had just bought the papers, was “When can I meet Dan?”
I had been coming out to the Hamptons and admiring Dan’s Papers for its remarkable ads and stories since the 1970s. Then, when I founded my own paper, The Queens Courier, in 1985, I really wanted to know Dan Rattiner, the man who created Dan’s.
One of the reasons why I was so thrilled and honored to own Dan’s Papers was to meet Dan. But Richard had discouraged me. He explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dan had become a recluse and I shouldn’t expect to see him.
I explained that I just wanted to reassure Dan that his treasured brand would be cared for and respected for its 60 years of unique, continuous publishing. To my delight, within 15 minutes of speaking with Dan, he invited me to lunch the following Saturday on his terrace overlooking the harbor in East Hampton. I quickly and excitingly accepted.
I met Dan and his wife Chris and we all enjoyed lunch together on a stunning, sunny day.
I knew Dan was a prolific writer for the newspaper, but I had no idea how many books he had written. He gave me a few to take home and little by little I’ve started reading them. He’s published more than 10 books and is completing a coffee table glossy book that features, in his words, “the wonder and beauty of the Hamptons.” Stay tuned!
Right now, I’m delighted to be reading his book, In the Hamptons, which was published in 2008. It has a forward written by the late esteemed writer and Hamptonite Edward Albee, but most importantly it has dozens of tales — all true, to my knowledge — of his early years in business. I laughed to myself when he described his sales experiences.
I loved the tale he told about when he was trying to get a prominent liquor store’s owner to renew an ad he had taken the previous year. But he was dodging him this year.
He “played” the card I teach my sales team and practice myself: persistence.
Since Dan believed the store owner would want the right-hand, up-front placement, he decided to go back and go back and thego back again, but the drop-dead deadline was approaching and the owner was hiding from Dan. So, believing in himself and believing that Ken Scanlon of Scanlon Liquor Store would want to be featured in Dan’s two-year-old Southampton edition, Dan placed the ad for him. It read:
“This space is reserved for Ken Scanlon of Scanlon Liquor Store on Hampton Road in Southampton. He had the space all last year. It’s his. And I am not selling it to anyone else. But he hasn’t said yes yet. Show him that he can make money from the ad. Go into his store and buy as much J&B scotch as you can. He’ll see.”
Dan was even shocked at himself for his boldness. But another week went by and still no word from the prestigious store owner. So the following week, Dan tried again, this time writing the following:
“Readers: Unfortunately I have been out of town for the past week so I do not know if our campaign is working yet. Keep going to Mr. Scanlon‘s liquor store and buy J&B for just a little while longer. In the end, he’s just got to buy the space. I’ll let you know what happens.”
Sure enough, Dan got up the courage to go into the store and saw Mr. Scanlon sitting on a stool reading a newspaper. He looked up and told Dan, “keep doing what you’re doing for the rest of the issues of the summer and send me the bill.” Success! That story tells everything one needs to know about Dan’s brilliance!
The book also has chapter after chapter filled with stories of the rich and famous people he has spent time with over the years. From great writers like Truman Capote to red-hot stars like Billy Joel and Bianca Jagger, he pulls no punches about his experiences with them.
Dan is an ”outsider- insider” who wrote about “insiders“ while publishing his weekly newspapers for 60 years, that he started with little money and a lot of passion, just like me. Maybe that’s why we’ve come to love each other.
It also doesn’t hurt that we’re both from Brooklyn!
Dog Owners Beware
This past week, my daughter Samantha went through hell, nearly losing her new puppy Ruby at her dog sitter’s home.
She and her friend decided that their beloved pets needed socialization and playmates. So they found a local woman who takes in pets for boarding and offers day care services.
But when she went back to the sitter’s home to pick up Ruby, both dogs were gone!
Fortunately, there was a happy ending after an hours-long, heart-stopping search. Samantha found Ruby, who had snuck behind a planter on the porch. Samantha’s friend put out an alert and all of her friends searched the neighborhood to fortunately find her beloved pet, who had squiggled out under the fence.
Beware when you board your pet and make sure to check the fencing! You can never be too safe!