Ever wonder who reads the Advocate? We do. Of course, our curiosity is more than academic: We explain our newspaper’s readership to advertisers every day, and if we can’t prove that their message will be read and acted upon, we aren’t doing our job.

So when we received the results of a recent telephone survey of 225 neighborhood residents concerning the Advocate and their shopping patterns, I was interested to note, for example, that only The Dallas Morning News is read by more neighborhood residents. And that our readership (more than 50 percent of those contacted regularly read our newspaper) is more than double that of any other publication.

Pretty interesting, huh?

Here’s a few other tidbits from the survey:

  • In nearly 67 percent of households, the Advocate is read by two or more people.
  • More than 95 percent of us use coupons during the course of a month, with more than 80 percent using coupons more than once each month.
  • Not surprisingly, more than 77 percent of us prefer shopping closer to home rather than work.
  • Nearly 60 percent of our readers are between the ages of 35 and 64; 16 percent of readers are over 65 years old.
  • More than 85 percent of us earn more than $30,000 annually; 49 percent earn more than $50,000 annually.
  • Nearly 50 percent of us have bought or sold securities through a stockbroker during the past 12 months.
  • The most popular grocery store among those surveyed? Tom Thumb, by a nose over – if you can believe it – Sam’s Club (59 percent to 52 percent). Next in line was Kroger (46 percent), followed by Albertson’s (40 percent) and 7-Eleven (38 percent).
  • When it comes to fast food, more than 55 percent of us have utilized a drive-through four times or more during the past 30 days. In fact, more than 21 percent of us have stopped by a fast food restaurant 10 times or more during that period.
  • Nearly 45 percent of us made home improvements during the past year, with interior paint and wallpaper (12 percent), plumbing and electrical work (9 percent), carpeting and floor covering (nearly 8 percent) and landscaping (more than 6 percent) leading the list.
  • Of those who made home improvements, nearly 68 percent spent $1,000 or more during the past year; more than 41 percent spent more than $3,000; and nearly 15 percent spent more than $10,000.

And more than 70 percent of those surveyed hired a professional contractor to handle these improvements.

  • When it comes to oil changes, nearly 80 percent of us prefer to hire someone else to do the dirty work: More than 16 percent used a dealership, nearly 25 percent used a service station, and quick lube outlets captured 38 percent of our business.
  • Again not surprisingly, nearly 75 percent of us had our cars serviced and/or repaired within five miles of our homes.
  • The most popular shopping centers? Casa Linda, with more than 83 percent of those surveyed indicating they shopped there during the past month. Valley View was close behind with more than 82 percent, while the Tom Thumb Center at Abrams & Skillman and NorthPark were runners-up. Eighteen different shopping areas – both strip centers and enclosed malls were mentioned – so I guess it’s safe to assume a bunch of us are serious about helping stimulate our economy.
  • When it comes to leisure-time activities, gardening was the big winner with more than 60 percent of those surveyed reporting they had gardened during the past year. Aerobic walking (37 percent), jogging (36 percent), bicycling (30 percent), golf (26 percent) and bowling (20 percent) also are popular activities.
  • Nearly 40 percent of us have attended three or more movies during the past 90 days, with virtually every person surveyed indicating they had attended at least one movie during this period.
  • And nearly 45 percent of us attended a live theater event during the past year, with more than 44 percent attending an arts and craft show. (Another item of note: More than 14 percent of us attended a high school football game during the past year, a tribute to both our football team and our community spirit.)

Actually, the survey turned up quite a few additional tidbits of information about our readers and their shopping and activity patterns, and it’s information that every neighborhood businessperson should use to target their marketing.

If you would like a copy of the survey, give one of our advertising representatives a call. They’ll be happy to go over the survey with you and help target your marketing to our readers.

And if you will allow me a shameless plug here, that’s pretty much what the Advocate is all about. Without strong neighborhood businesses, there’s not much need for a neighborhood newspaper. And without a neighborhood newspaper, we’ll have a hard time finding out about what’s going on with our schools’ PTA, or which local honor students are attending which college, or which neighborhood businesses are going the extra mile to make a difference in our neighborhoods.

After all, our purpose here is to help each of us get to know our neighbors and our neighborhood a little better, with the expectation that a little knowledge will go a long way to dispel the notion that the big city is a cold, cruel place.

Based on the results of this survey, it seems to be working.