Detroit Free Press unburies story of St. Joseph statues

by March 5, 2010
Statue of St. Joseph in Detroit Free Press video about burying of statues to hasten real estate sales

The Detroit Free Press report includes a video of a woman digging up this buried St. Joseph statue outside her home.

Zlati Meyer of the Detroit Free Press writes about how home sellers are burying St. Joseph statutes in their yards to improve their sales potential. Zlati writes:

“Whether from devotion or desperation, others are asking for intercession as well. Ginger Mikell, spokeswoman for Ziegler’s, a Catholic online retailer, said its sales of St. Joseph kits have gone up more than 30% over the last four years, from 948 in 2005 to 1,275 last year.”

Burying statutes dates back to medieval times, the story says. Zlati says she heard about the statutes years ago while living in New York. Burying a small statute of Joseph, patron saint of carpenters, is supposed to help move real estate.

Zlati Meyer, reporter for Detroit Free Press

Zlati Meyer

“With the housing market so bad in metro-Detroit, we write lots of stories about the real-estate slump and what people try to do to improve their lots – pardon the pun,” she says in an e-mail. “The St. Joe idea was one of those that I thought to take out of deep-storage. Southeastern Michigan has a nice-sized Catholic community, though I found plenty of non-Catholics who’re trying their luck by burying these statues.”

Today’s Tip: Be a pack rat with your story ideas, Zlati says.

She says she keeps story-idea folders and piles at the office and at home.

“Sometimes, a topic that seemed like an old hat can be revitalized, or a story told the same way over and over can be recast with a fresh angle,” she says.

If you decide to use an old idea, be sure the reporting is fresh. Incorporating sales data and putting the story into the context of the current recession gives an old idea a different spin.