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David Laurence Publications, the Williamsville-based company that publishes Buffalo Spree magazine, has acquired Buffalo Beat, a free weekly newspaper, and three other publications.

Larry Levite, co-owner of David Laurence, which has published Buffalo Spree since late 1998, said the company has been looking to growth through acquisition.

"We'd been looking around, then all of a sudden these opportunities found us," Levite said. "Now we've got a really nice mix of publications, all of them different."

In addition to Buffalo Beat, David Laurence has bought a related business, Encore Publications, which publishes playbills for nine area theaters; as well as independently-owned Senior Beacon, a monthly magazine for the 50-plus crowd, and Destination Buffalo, an annual relocation guide published for the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership.

Buffalo Beat, which has been published since 1996, started life as a sister publication of Metro Community News. In the past several months it has published as a stand-alone weekly owned by Mark Maussner, son of former Metro publisher, Richard Maussner.

Mark Maussner, who could not be reached to comment on the sale, will reportedly turn his attention to Charm Graphics, a printing business he owns.

According to audited circulation figures, Buffalo Beat distributes 44,000 copies each week, and has a cumulative monthly readership of 198,000, according to audited circulation data.

Levite and business partner, David McDuff, plan to relocate the paper and its staff from its downtown Buffalo headquarters to Buffalo Spree offices at 5678 Main St. in Williamsville. As far as changes to the paper's sometimes irreverent editorial style, the new owners plan no immediate overhaul in paper's content or staff.

"Our goal is to make Buffalo Beat, and all our publications for that matter, the best they can be," Levite said. "These are all strong publications that offer great growth potential."

The Senior Beacon, a 13-year-old monthly magazine aimed at the area's retired community, was sold by its founder Arthur Joseph, 74, who has decided to retire. He will continue to serve as a part-time consultant to the new owners.

Destination Buffalo was owned by former Buffalonian Jack Buck, who has been producing the annual relocation resource for the Partnership from his new home in Minnesota for the past few years. Buck, a subscriber to Buffalo Spree, sent Levite and McDuff a letter asking them if they would be interested in producing the new resident guidebook.

Since buying the now 35-year-old Spree in late 1998, Levite, McDuff and their staff have transformed Buffalo Spree's black-and-white format to a glossy, full-color style, more than doubled its size from 100 pages to 250, and boosted its stable of advertisers.

They've also created a new revenue stream by converting some 4,000 complimentary subscribers to paid readers, an effort that is continuing. Later this year, they plan to go from a bi-monthly publication schedule to monthly issues.

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