The Portland Phoenix shut down publication in February after losing two major advertisers, its publisher said.

Mark Guerringue, who publishes three free dailies in New Hampshire, said he made the decision to close the alternative weekly and lay off its two full-time employees after losing the advertisers.

“I closed it, hopefully temporarily,” he said.

The paper went from weekly to biweekly publication in January and the decision to close came the next month, Guerringue said.

The Portland Phoenix was once part of a group of four Phoenix publications, focusing on arts and culture coverage, in New England. Headquartered in Boston, Phoenix publications were also in Rhode Island and Worcester. Guerringue bought it five years ago and was the last survivor from the once-thriving small chain.

Employees explored the possibility of purchasing the Portland Phoenix after the Boston and Providence publication shut down five years ago. There was also some staff turmoil after Guerringue bought it, with an editor and staff writer departing. MaineToday Media, which owns the Portland Press Herald, sells ads for and prints the Portland Phoenix.

Guerringue said he will monitor the progress in creating a legal recreational marijuana market in Portland, which he sees as a potentially lucrative advertising market for the publication. That could lead to a resurrection of the Portland Phoenix, he said. Recreational marijuana possession and use was legalized in a 2016 referendum, but state officials have been slow to set up the procedures for businesses to open up stores.

“We do think there’s room for a Phoenix in a city like Portland,” Guerringue said, and he may try to re-launch as a nonprofit or on a membership basis.

But in recent years, “it’s just been a tough slog,” he said, and much of the arts and culture coverage that the paper specialized in has been adopted by people who publish online.

“We were covering alternative news, but online, people can find an alternative to alternative news,” Guerringue said. “For a lot of arts and culture news, there is a voice that’s going to be missed and hopefully, it will return.”

Guerringue published the Portland Daily Sun, a free newspaper, in Maine from 2009 to 2014. He publishes the Conway Daily Sun, Laconia Daily Sun and Berlin Daily Sun in New Hampshire. All are free and published daily except for the Berlin publication, which publishes twice a week.

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