By Collin Kelley
While Facebook and Twitter have become the most popular social media platforms, blogs are still going strong. As part of our ongoing series, we met up with three local bloggers who have built loyal followings.
These are the kinds of blogs people bookmark or set up Google alerts to make sure they are caught up with the latest items being posted. The blogs also give a snapshot of Atlanta’s ever-growing, social media savvy populace.
Ready, set, click.
One of the city’s most controversial blogs is What Now, Atlanta? maintained by 22-year-old Caleb J. Spivak. The blog focuses on the openings and closings of local retail and restaurants, with a bit of Spivak’s opinion thrown in for good measure. He often announces closings before the staff has been informed, and he’s drawn the ire of restaurant owners for posting failed health inspection scores.
Spivak created What Now, Atlanta? four years ago, and can often be found in his “office” at Inman Perk Coffee Shop. When he’s not tracking down leads and fielding tips from a network of contacts, he’s at his day job or in class at Georgia State University, where he’s a marketing major. Spivak also spends untold hours sifting through public documents gleaning information about local businesses.
“I spend an average of eight hours on each post,” Spivak says. “And while that’s happening, I’m getting more tips in my mailbox or on my phone. Sometimes, it’s information overload.”
Spivak was the first to get the details on Phipps Plaza’s deal with Legoland and the abrupt closings of the 5th Street Café and Nikimoto’s. Spivak said he often turns to fellow blogger and mentor Michael Alvear when he has questions or concerns about posting a potential item.
Spivak considers himself more of a curator than a journalist, but says he strives to present factual information and correct it quickly when he gets it wrong.
“My readers are incredibly passionate and they have their own opinions,” he says. “I’m reporting this information and it creates dialogue.”
Looking for bargain luxury label clothing and accessories, but don’t feel like trolling through the thrift shops to find it? Daniel Troppy does it for you and provides the details on his blog, The Thrifters. The blog has been so popular, it led Troppy to open Doubletake boutique in Studioplex, where he sells many of his finds.
“I started shopping in thrift stores while I was poor and destitute during college,” he says. “It really is amazing what you can find at Goodwill if you’re persistent and patient. It takes stamina.”
Troppy goes to thrift stores almost every day and recounts his adventures and finds on the blog. He spends up to three hours in each one, and often returns more than once a day.
Troppy has find Chanel jackets, Pucci dresses and Prada bags, often in brand new condition. He says big fashion labels liquidate their merchandise to places like TJ Maxx and Ross, but if those discounters can’t sell the items, they often just donate them to thrift stores.
Goodwill and Salvation Army shops yield the best finds, he says, and he also goes to estate sales. Even when he’s out of town on vacation, he’ll pop into thrift stores. “Houston has some particularly good thrift stores,” he laughs.
The best-of-the-best in Troppy’s daily thrifting expeditions winds up for sale in Doubletake. “The shop wouldn’t be here without the blog,” he says.
Troppy’s best advice for those looking to find luxury for a few dollars: “It’s all timing; if you don’t find what you’re looking for, keep going back.”
Grant Park resident Tim Frederick created Baby Got Books in 2005 after reading The New York Times’ annual list of 100 notable books and realized he’d only heard about a half dozen of the titles.
“As an avid reader, I couldn’t believe that I was that out of touch,” Frederick recalls. “BGB was born shortly thereafter as a New Year’s resolution to become more engaged with reading and more up to date with literary news.”
Employed by the Environmental Protection Agency by day, Frederick said the blog was a good hobby and he was able to recruit friends who were also book lovers to join the effort. With newspapers and magazines cutting back on their coverage of books and reviews, BGB has become a must-read for the literati. The site gets between 5,000 and 7,000 visitors each month.
“I’m amazed and humbled daily that we’re putting something out there that people other than my mother will occasionally stop to read,” Frederick says.
The reviews that go up on the site include everything from contemporary fiction to books dealing with science and environmental issues. “Our contributors have varied interests – fiction of all stripes, historical non-fiction, classics, etc. I’d like to think we present a fairly eclectic mix of books.”
With summer here, Frederick says he plans to catch up on his reading including The Hunger Games series, David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King and he’s looking forward to China Mieville’s Embassytown, 1Q84 by Haruki Marukami and The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.