A few years back you could walk into any coffee shop in town and count on finding a copy of “Save the Crumbs,” a scrappy little ‘zine full of great writing.

And then one day, poof, it was gone!

Because we were doing a piece on some new ‘zine efforts in town, we thought it’d be good to check in with a guy who published one of the great ones.

The Free Press: Tell us how “Save the Crumbs” got started and what inspired your decision to do something creative like that?

Dustin Wilmes: I had a creative writing background from MSU and had always liked writing. My friend Paul Connolly had started a ‘zine in Duluth called “...And the Heroine Screams Help!” There wasn’t anything like that in Mankato at the time and I thought there should be.

FP: How long did it last?

DW: A few friends and I published the first issue in early 2007. It lasted until the spring of 2014.

FP: What were some of the most rewarding parts of publishing STC?

DW: It was fun to be able to offer an outlet for people to get their stuff published. At that time we had Static magazine in Mankato and that was about it. It was usually the same handful of people featured in there, so I think we really gave an outlet to some talented people who were maybe in hiding. We had a lot of really cool stuff in those old issues.

FP: What were the biggest challenges?

DW: Besides the fact that it was all self-financed, the biggest problem was usually getting people to stick to deadlines. Sometimes really creative and talented people have trouble with deadlines it seems. Also, there were quite a few businesses in town that didn’t want to carry our Save the Crumbs. A lot of businesses were really great and understood what we were trying to do, but others thought there was some sort of angle or agenda or that we were distributing some sort of sketchy propaganda. They didn’t buy that we were just printing it for fun and giving it away for free. In today’s society, I imagine it would seem even sketchier now!

FP: Were you ever able to gauge feedback? From what I can tell it was very well liked in town; were you able to gear content at all to what readers wanted or did you always just create the content you wanted to create?

DW: Since we financed it all ourselves, there was never really any worry about catering to a certain type of audience. There was some pretty weird stuff we put out there. We always heard nice things from people when they would see us out distributing it. I think a lot of people really did enjoy it. We even set up a mail-order deal toward the end for people who wanted copies but didn’t live in town. If anyone thought it was awful, they never mentioned it to us.

FP: What ultimately caused the end?

DW: It was a few things. Mostly busy schedules and competing with MySpace blogs and Facebook and Twitter. As the years went on, a lot of people liked to just post their own stuff online and get that instant gratification I guess. I wanted to make it to 50 issues and call it a day, but my laptop with all the pirated software I used to make the Save the Crumbs died on me. We ended up publishing 43 issues in all. Ultimately, just the printed page’s continued circling of the drain eventually did us in. Just like vinyl records and cassettes and rebooted TV shows from the ‘80s though, it seems like people are starting to appreciate physical copies of things again.

FP: There seems to be more of these popping up; have you given any thought to resurrecting STC?

DW: I think ‘zine publishing is a young person’s game. Now I’m an old dude with a family and 9 to 5 job. I also currently put a lot of time into my radio show at KMSU and my friend Juston Cline and I have a YouTube series called The Five Count Co-op. I’m really glad we published Save the Crumbs for as long as we did and I’m grateful to all the people who helped out and who enjoyed it. For now, you can find all the issues of Save the Crumbs online at www.thefivecount.com/savethecrumbs.

I wish anyone luck who wants to start their own ‘zine. There are still plenty of talented people in Mankato who could use an outlet. Feel free to reach out to me if you need any advice!

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