Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The story of a sign

After 12 years of steady service above our old store on Snelling, we had to decide what to do with our old sign. Made of painted sheet metal on an aluminum frame, it was still in good condition, but the logo painted on it was out of date. What do you do with an old sign, anyway?

We designed our original peapod logo in 1999 by editing an MS-Publisher clip art image of vegetables. The font for "Peapods" was Rage Italic, also from MS-Publisher (the same font Panera uses for its menu boards). By 2005, the logo seemed awfully dated and, um, somewhat unprofessional. So we hired Katrina Hase at Mix Creative to redesign our logo. The sign, however, remained--mostly due to the cost of replacing it.

With our move, however, we needed to get that sign down. We're pretty hardy do-it-yourselfers, but we realized removing the sign from its mountings on the brick above the fabric awning would require some professional help. Plus, we were a bit preoccupied with our move and getting our new space into shape. So, we hired a sign company from Eagan to take it down. We would decide later whether to recycle it or keep it as a souvenir.

One day in February, Dan drove our minivan down to Eagan to take a look. We had the idea that he might just load it into the back of the van and drive it home. When he got there, though, it was clear that the sign is much bigger than what we assumed--it's a full 16 feet long and 40" tall. Recycling would be a far easier option. But, it looked so sad, lying there in snow. Dan felt especially sentimental about it, so we arranged to have it delivered to the new store.

So now it's at the new store. Now what? It was too big to even go down the stairs to the basement. The only possible place for it was to hang it high on the wall in our back room, which is phase 2 of our expansion into our new store.

Our back room was the former hardware store's repair shop, where they fixed windows and lawn mowers. A little more than 1,000 square feet, it is actually the oldest part of the building. It was built as a automobile service garage fronting the alley in 1930. The main front part of the building was added 10 years later and became Park Hardware.

When we bought the building, the back had a cement slab floor, cinderblock walls, an uninsulated ceiling, a large space heater hanging in one corner, and was lit by big fluorescent lights. Much of our work in the new store was to convert the back room into usable space. We insulated the ceiling and walls, installed a vapor barrier underlayment on the floor, built space for our office, installed a new furnace, sheetrocked the walls, hung a new ceiling, and installed a beautiful new cork floor. And then hung up our old sign.

So, there it is. Right above our new cloth diaper shelves. It's maybe a little Cracker Barrel--hanging old signs on the wall--but we think it of it as an homage to our old store and all of our memories that go along with it.

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