No, we didn’t change the store name to “Caution”, and that’s not the new sign!
If you live in Ann Arbor, you may have seen the recent piece on AnnArbor.com about the sign. We were glad to see there were only a few snarks and trolls; in general, the amount of local support for restoring the sign has been heartwarming. So now we’re in the homestretch, with only a few hurdles ahead. If you’ve driven by the store lately, we apologize for our appearances! No, we haven’t changed the store name to “CAUTION”, and that wire cage out front wrapped in warning tape is not the new sign. That was one of the first hurdles. You would think putting in a new sign foundation where one existed before would be a piece of cake, but the guys from JK Services of Dearborn Heights ran into some surprises as they jackhammered that 9 foot hole. No volcanic activity or oil, but even the city doesn’t have records on exactly what lies beneath a lot of downtown building sites, and apparently there were a lot more layers of different concrete and paving materials than you would imagine. They got the work done though, and that prepares us for the next hurdle – inspection. We don’t have a date as of this writing for when the site will be inspected and approved. Hopefully by then we’ll have word on whether or not insurance will cover the original damage, and if the stars align on all those issues, the restoration will be complete shortly thereafter.
And there’s the rub. The owners have faced considerable hardship by seeking to restore this classic sign. It would have been much cheaper, and much easier, to simply put up a new conforming sign. In spite of the naive observations of some AnnArbor.com commenters about the cost, this is a RESTORATION job, requiring the use of as many original components as possible, and custom neon work. Jan Signs is about halfway done (there are a couple of images below), but the project is still not 100% funded.
We’re looking at fundraising options, but one way or another, the sign will be going back up. Several commenters here on the “Save Our Sign” blog have suggested a KickStarter campaign. What do YOU think? Would you want to take part in a fundraising effort? Should the owners initiate a KickStarter page? They’re reluctant to pursue this angle themselves, partly because a campaign framed by a retailer restoring a sign is not entirely in line with KickStarter guidelines, but also because they feel that this sort of approach should be driven by genuine community appreciation of the artisanship and craft behind a vintage sign like this.
We’d be interested in talking to local artists, designers, or KickStarter geniuses who have merchandising and fundraising ideas. Drop us a line if you’re interested.
Here are a couple of photos from a few weeks ago of the sign in progress. Sorry for the small images, that’s what Jan Signs sent us…