Few people would have suggested that the first decade of the 21st century was a good time to launch a print venture. But Heather Chandler was undaunted. She was intrigued by a publication in Portland, Oregon, called the Chinook Book, which brought an environmental sensibility to an annual guide that offered tips on living a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. It also offered coupons for goods and services that made achieving that lifestyle easier and less expensive. In 2006, Chandler launched her own version in Portland – Maine – called the SunriseGuide and in recent years has added guides for visitors to Maine and another for homeowners.

Chandler’s company, also named SunriseGuide, has four employees.

Q: This is the 10th edition of the SunriseGuide. What’s the best deal you’ve ever had in it?

A: The one coupon that everyone always remembers is the coupon Hannaford did with rotisserie chicken. They launched Nature’s Place chicken and they had a coupon for a free chicken in the guide. People still talk about it. And people always email me and say, “I saved $100 at Maine Hardware today or I saved $200 at Maine Hardware.” People love Maine Hardware.

Q: Are there deals that didn’t work out so great?

A: Early on, it was a learning curve. There was a coupon for a restaurant: Buy one entrée and get one free. That’s a lot for a restaurant to give away. And there wasn’t any fine print, so sometimes two couples would come and buy two and get two free. But another restaurant swore by it and said people would also buy drinks and side dishes and desserts.


Q: Why do you publish it so late in the year?

A: It’s a popular gift –we always try to get it out before the holidays. The 2016 edition was released in late November. It’s used for lots of holiday gifting and we have lots of businesses that buy them for employees or clients.

Q: There are more than 200 coupons in it. Do readers use it year-round?

A: It’s kind of an adventure; people tell us they love that aspect of it. They dig it out and say, “What are we going to do this month?” People use it as a guide to Maine.

Q: How did you decide what to focus on?

A: It’s for people with a strong commitment to sustainable lifestyles, as well as those just looking to be a little bit more sustainable. There are sections that cover everything from food and dining to home life, health and wellness, shopping, kids. There are coupons from all of those categories, like restaurants that have a commitment to sourcing locally.


Q: How do you choose who to go to for advertisements and coupon deals?

A: It’s always been my biggest fear that somebody will want to advertise a product that doesn’t meet our criteria about sustainability and the environment and we’ll have to turn them away. We do a lot of pre-filtering before we approach people.

Q: So an oil company likely would not be approached?

A: No, but we do have biofuels. It’s all about finding the products and services that we use every day and then who’s going above and beyond.

Q: What’s next for the company?

A: SunriseGuide as a business does more than the SunriseGuide (book). Four years ago, we launched a magazine called Green & Healthy Maine Visitors Guide. It was like the SunriseGuide, but for tourists. We have had such a great response that this year we launched Green & Healthy Maine Homes. It comes out twice a year and we launched a mobile edition of the SunriseGuide this year as well, so we’ve done a lot of growing and evolving. Moving forward, we’ll build on those platforms. The move from print to mobile has been slower than I initially thought it would be. I thought people would jump on this and in a few years we wouldn’t do print anymore, but people said, “That sounds great, but don’t take the book away.” But it is gaining traction and people are getting more experienced with mobile, especially mobile couponing.

Q: Why do you think it has taken time for mobile to be adopted?

A: It’s a behavioral change. I had one store manager who pulled me aside and said he loves it and has been using exponentially more coupons because of having it on the phone. People need to see it and hear about it multiple times.


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