It has been a life long love affair of handicrafts for Publisher Barbara Floyd, the founder of The Country Registers. As a child, she would crochet yards and yards of string and wrap it into a ball. In grade school, the teachers had her cutting construction paper letters for all the bulletin boards.
Every craft had to be tried throughout the years finally leading to a teaching degree with a minor in art along with a science major. Barbara's first teaching job in a Minneapolis high school included time in the art department. She and her husband left Minnesota for Arizona to start a ceramic studio in Prescott. Another art job presented itself at the junior high level.
Since Barbara has always been an entrepreneur at heart, it seemed only natural that, after raising four children, she would meld the business world with her love of handmade items. As a PTA mom, she got a taste of that combination by organizing one of the first, highly successful juried arts and crafts fundraisers in Arizona. When the school eventually phased out that event, Barbara moved it to her home creating an instant success. Soon home based arts and crafts shows became popular all over Phoenix.
Next Barbara opened a small gift shop close to home. Having a young daughter with the same talents and passions provided for a great lets-do-it-together project. Daughter Barbra-Jean eventually owned the shop, one of the first "country" shops in Arizona, in a subsequent location. This mother-daughter team then opened one of the first combined tea room and gift shops in the state. Although under different ownership, Gooseberries Tea Room is still operating in Phoenix.
Needing an effective yet affordable means of advertising their shop, Barbra-Jean suggested that her mom put out a promotional newspaper. Always a can-do person, Barbara thought that sounded like a good idea. So in Fall 1988, The Country Register made its debut featuring eight pages, printed in black and white, and with twenty-four advertisers. Some original advertisers that are still in business continue as steady, constant supporters of the Register to this day.
The Register has played a large role in the success and growth in Arizona of the industry it promotes. One of the publication's biggest strengths is forging bonds between shop owners, crafters, artisans, and customers. The Country Register of Arizona prints forty or more pages, bimonthly, with full color on the front and back and in the center. It is distributed without charge at its advertisers' locations as well as other 'well-traveled' sites.
Eventually, as popularity of the newspaper spread, people from other states approached Barbara for help in starting The Country Register in their own areas. Thus a licensing agreement for the nationally trademarked name and logo was arranged. Michigan, now with a circulation of 66,000, became the second state to have The Country Register. There are now over 40 Country Registers in the United States and Canada.