Breaking News: Western Interiors Magazine Ceases Publication

In a surprising move, Sandow Media, which announced in March that it had purchased Western Interiors magazine, has shut it down. 

Western Interiors' April/May issue, which is being mailed out to subscribers now, will be its last. It had been publishing for seven years.

Sandow, which publishes Luxe magazine in about 12 regions including Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Arizona, will begin mailing Luxe to former Western Interiors subscribers instead. 

A phone call to the Western Interiors offices today reached a recording that says, "Thank you for calling Sandow Media."

Many employees of Los Angeles-based Western Interiors have been offered opportunities to stay on with Luxe, including editor-in-chief Michael Wollaeger, who has been asked to stay on as a consultant. It's not known which employees elected to take the offers.

One Western Interiors employee who has been with the magazine two years on the publishing side and declined Sandow's offer to stay on, and has agreed to talk about the changeover on this blog. She asked that her name not be used because she is looking for work.

"They shut the magazine down as soon as we were acquired by Sandow," she said. "I was notified by my publisher, first by email that the purchase had happened, and then she talked with me in her office and told me they were closing us down. It was pretty shocking. Western Interiors is such a quality publication, I don't know why Sandow wouldn't want to continue it." 

She said that the magazine had been actively seeking an infusion of cash for months and speculated that Sandow saw this as a chance to eliminate a competing magazine, while also gaining control of its valuable subscriber list.

The shuttering of Western Interiors has been kept quiet. 

While Sandow sent out a press release on March 18 announcing the purchase of Western Interiors and lauding the magazine as "a key component of (Luxe's) continued expansion strategy," it did not reveal that it had also shut the magazine down. 

Subscribers will receive letters inside their final edition offering subscriptions to Luxe magazine instead, and explaining the new Luxe concept. "They are hoping to create a hybrid of Luxe and Western Interiors style editorial," the former employee said. They are talking to Michael Wollaeger about being a consultant. The new magazine will have a national focus, but still distribute regionally as Luxe. But they will no longer have the city or regional names on them. They hope that Western Interiors subscribers will turn over to Luxe, because it's a very strong, affluent subscriber base that is valuable." 

Western Interiors has a paid, verified subscriber base of 275,000, with a median income of $329,000 and an average net worth of $2.8 million, according to the March 18 press release. By contrast, Luxe is distributed via proprietary controlled circulation and is not audited.

As soon as I get comments from Sandow Media I'll post them.