In response to a reported shopping spree by two people who traversed the North Fork and Shelter Island Thursday and Friday, buying as many copies as possible of the Sept. 22 News-Review and Suffolk Times, parent company Times/Review Newsgroup had another 5,500 copies printed Friday afternoon.
It was the first time someone attempted to buy every copy of an issue in the Mattituck-based business’ history, company officials said.
Some 30 newspaper dealers called Thursday and Friday to report sellouts of the paper.
Two different people were hitting up the stores, according to the reports from the vendors. Those people were paying for the newspapers, not stealing them, company officials emphasized.
“It’s at least two people, a man and a woman,” Times/Review Newsgroup circulation manager Laura Huber said last week. “And the two claims have been that they’re using the papers to either move, or that they’re using it for a school project.
“The school project story seems to be the one that is sticking [with unsuspecting business owners],” Ms. Huber noted.
She estimated the people who were buying the newspapers may have spent several thousand dollars.
It was not clear what motivated the paper-buying frenzy, though Times/Review publisher Andrew Olsen said he did have suspicions.
“So far we have no hard proof,” he said. “But if it’s someone attempting to somehow silence our coverage or make an uncomfortable story go away, they’re wasting their time and their money. We will not be silenced.”
John Biancaniello, owner of the 7-Eleven near the Roanoke Avenue traffic circle, said on Thursday that a woman came into the store and bought the 90 remaining copies of the News-Review and the 32 remaining copies of The Suffolk Times for a total $183.
The woman said she was using the papers to move, though she did not buy any copies of Newsday or The Southampton Press, which are also on sale at the store. Times/Review publications sell for $1.50 per copy while Newsday costs 75 cents and the Southampton Press is $1.
An employee at Bapa Cards,in the Walmart shopping center in Riverhead, also said one person came in Thursday about 11 a.m. and purchased nearly all the copies, but did not say how many.
An employee of the 7-Eleven on Route 58 near the Department of Motor Vehicles said two people came in and requested copies. The first patron was cut off at 40 copies. Another came in soon after, but was only allowed to buy 10 copies.
A woman called the Times/Review office in Mattituck Thursday morning asking for a list of all newsstands in town. A Times/Review employee denied that request. When the unknown woman told the employee she was located off Roanoke Avenue, the employee directed her to the nearby 7-Eleven, which soon sold out.
The same people are also suspected to have visited Shelter Island to buy copies of The Suffolk Times there, according to information the company acquired from one newsstand on the island.
The 5,500 extra copies of the Sept. 22 News-Review and Suffolk Times were delivered to newsstands Friday night and Saturday.