On Wednesday, Garden & Gun, the Charleston-based magazine full of fine content and exquisite pictures of rifles, announced that its editor in chief, Sid Evans, would be departing for a job at Time, Inc. The search for a replacement with swift and correct — taking over is David DiBenedetto, Savannah native and author of a trout fishing road trip memoir. Sounds pretty perfect.
His first course of action is to take the southern content to the rest of the country.
“The southern lifestyle is something that so many people want to live,” Mr. DiBenedetto told The Observer over the phone from his office. We won’t leave our core coverage, but there are plenty ex-pats out there that cant be without it.”
The new editor “did the New York thing” (his words) for 12 years, working at Men’s Journal and freelancing all over town, before heading down south. As Garden & Gun executive editor, he curated a body of articles on topics like hush puppies, pilots lost in Georgia in the 1920s — and of course a hefty amount of copy about booze.
But the most pleasant of all the Garden & Gun offerings may be its weekly newsletter, the wonderfully titled Talk of the South. For harried New Yorkers and others who can’t afford to operate at a southern pace, it’s easily the happiest ping in your inbox. “A Single Malt Road Trip” read one subject line. Or, “The G&G Father’s Day Gift Guide.” Or perhaps “Summer Refreshing Cocktails.” It’s impossible not to click and never disappointing.
“You see, a lot of places have newsletters that’s just fluff, just an ad on the side of the page,” he said. “It’s gotta have soul, you gotta give the reader something we believe in.”
When they feature a person or product, the attention given to them — the letter has a 50 percent click-through rate — is often overwhelming.
“Once we wrote about a guy in Kentucky who was making soy sauce in bourbon barrels and he sold out his entire shop that afternoon,” Mr. DiBenedetto told The Observer. “We’ve crashed people’s websites! We believe truly in what we’re sending them.”
The newsletter can be acquired through a few clicks on the magazine’s website, and even if you can’t get to Chattanooga to have a cocktail at Rhythm and Brews (a joint highlighted in the most recent issue) you can have a brief respite from the city. The editor guarantees it.
“There’s always the temptation to say, ‘Oh, it’s just the web, whatever,” Mr. DiBenedetto said. “But we don’t do that. It’s got to be a Garden & Gun story.”