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Letter to the editor from RAYGUN’s Mike Draper: Why I’m helping launch Little Village Des Moines


A Little Village rack sits outside RAYGUN’s downtown Iowa City location in September 2018. — Celine Robins/Little Village

By Mike Draper, founder and owner, RAYGUNshirts

Seeing an arts-culture-and-news alternative magazine in Des Moines has been on my mind for years. I think the kind of connection these publications gave the community hasn’t been replicated by the internet. So this might be the perfect era to see if a print publication would work.

Coming out of a global pandemic that triggered stress and heightened financial insecurity like nothing I’d yet experienced, I said to myself, “Mike, this would be the PERFECT TIME to put time, money and effort into this high-risk passion project!! Who needs a new roof on the house?!” (Apologies to my family.)

Actually, the timing was more about the dream team that fell into place this past summer. Our friends at Little Village Magazine in IC/CR had the same idea; I talked to them, and we combined forces with Phil K. James in DSM who agreed to handle the initial local ad push.

Beyond passion, I think the need is real and, thus, the market for this product is real. There is more to advertising than click rates and optimization. There is something about your company or organization showing your support for quality journalism that takes community connection seriously.

Selling ads for an imaginary publication that won’t be physically real for months is no easy task (to say the least!), but some people have really stepped up and already committed their support as founding advertisers — Jeff Bruning and Full Court Press were enthusiastic supporters, Tobi Parks at xBk, Kathryn Dickel at MidwesTix, Broadlawns Medical Center, Sam Summers with Wooly’s and FIRST FLEET CONCERTS, L.L.C. and more.

To get this off the ground, we will need a few more supporters, and I will be hitting some people up personally (if you’ve needed a favor from me or RAYGUN over the last few years, BE WARNED: you’re on my list!).

If you want to skip the hard sell, please email Phil for ad rates: phil.james@gmail.com

Building community is constant work. I didn’t want to coast on what was already done. So I’m re-upping my commitment to put some badass creative into my home city.

So get on board the retro-train: We’re bringing printed-alternative-papers back to Central Iowa!

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 302.


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