ST. LOUIS — For decades, the Matrisotto family has helped people get around the St. Louis region the old fashioned way, with a map.
The age of technology has cut sales in half, but the family’s Wunnenberg’s street guide is still going.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2dJm2EZ ) reports that Wunnenberg’s street guide has been around for 60 years and owned by the Matrisotto family since 1983. They’re produced under the company name St. Louis Area Maps Inc.
Nick Matrisotto, the company’s director of operations, says smartphones, mapping apps and GPS have been tough on business. About 130,000 of the street guides were sold in 2008. Now the company sells about half that.
“But we’re more updated than anybody,” Matrisotto said. “We struggle with the perception that technology is advanced or up-to-date.”
Members of the family watch news and check with government workers to keep things up to date, changes like dissolution of the St. Louis County town of St. George and the addition of hundreds of new streets in St. Charles County during the construction boom.
New editions are released every year, sometimes with streets that aren’t even there yet since they check with city planners to see what has been platted out for the next year. Those streets are included with dotted lines — something GPS maps don’t have, Matrisotto family members say.
Bennett Moe, president of the Americas division of the International Map Industry Association, believes street guide sales are on the rise.
“Much like the resurgence of vinyl in records, and the resurgence of paper in the book market, the death of the street map was premature,” Moe said.
“They’re really good for a quick reference and the batteries don’t run out,” he said.
They’re also useful for police. Special guides are made just for St. Louis County police. The maps are divided into special coded areas that help police evaluate crime trends and spread out manpower.
Police spokesman Benjamin Granda said police are all equipped with mapping technology, but “we have to be ready to respond anywhere at any time under any conditions.
“Having that street guide in my patrol vehicle has proved invaluable for me on several occasions,” Granda said.
A few employees have retired in recent years and were not replaced. The street guides lost a couple of big distribution accounts: QuikTrip pulled the maps out of their convenience stores and OfficeMax stopped carrying them after merging with Office Depot.
The company also focuses on wall maps. School districts use them for bus routes and school borders, and Imo’s Pizza drivers use them for delivery routes.
“I see potential in almost everything. Do I have rose-colored glasses on sometimes?” Maybe, Nick Matrisotto says. “No one can compete with our information.”
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com