Signs of the times: A visual tour of some of Fargo-Moorhead's intriguing business signs
Date: 11/15/2013 Album ID: 1732152
Photos by Shane Mercer
It's one of the most basic marketing tools a business has: the sign. A good sign can do more than just tell where a business is. It can communicate a lot about what a business is, what it values and how it does what it does. "I think good signs should really fully embrace your brand identity," said Susan Geib, assistant professor of marketing at Concordia's Offutt School of Business. In this photo story, we take a look at some of the interesting, elegant and chuckle-inducing business signs here in Fargo-Moorhead. Do you have a favorite sign in the Fargo-Moorhead area, past or present? Email news@forumcomm.com.
Olaf Anderson Construction Inc. - If not for the company name in the center, you could mistake the Olaf Anderson sign at 4102 19th Ave. N., Fargo, for a piece of sculpture art. A large steel oval is supported by a triangular concrete section. Olaf Anderson president Jeff Furstenau said he and his wife, Sunna, came up with the concept and Olaf Anderson architects fleshed it out. Like a good piece of art, the sign doesn't give up all of its secrets so quickly. It's easy to miss the fact that they've worked the initials into the structure, with the steel oval forming an O and the concrete portion shaped like an A. (J. Shane Mercer / The Forum)
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Swanston Equipment Co. - If Tim The Toolman Taylor were to design a sign, it would probably look like the one at 3450 Main Ave., Fargo. It's an actual Bobcat skid steer loader mounted atop a tall pole. It's been stripped down including having the engine removed and was installed by crane. It's not clear exactly how tall it is, but Chad Tatum, who works in sales at Swanston, said it can be seen from the interstate. (J. Shane Mercer / The Forum)
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Rick's Bar - The boot sign at Rick's Bar on Main Avenue in Fargo stands out. In fact, owner Rick Carik said he's heard that people have seen the giant cowboy boot at his bar when flying into Fargo. To the best of his recollection, Carik said the sign went up in 1979. It was a country bar at the time. Now he said the bar hosts a variety of styles of music. The neon requires some upkeep. It takes regular maintenance, Carik said, but the sign has never been damaged by the driving North Dakota winds. And, he said it's never been struck by a vehicle, which I feel very fortunate about.(J. Shane Mercer / The Forum)
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Tailgators Sports Cafe - Rick Nymark found a 1957 Chevrolet wagon at a junkyard - well, actually, he only found the back end of it. Someone had already taken the front half. It was pretty rusty, said Nymark, co-owner of Tailgators on Main Avenue in Fargo. He had it restored, and today it serves as a sign for the sports cafe, as it hangs over the doors, on the east side of the restaurant/bar. It gets lots of comments, Nymark said, and people take pictures. Of course, if you're impressed by the '57 Chevy over the doors, you should step inside and see the 1959 El Camino that holds a salad bar and steam table.(J. Shane Mercer / The Forum)
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Hotel Donaldson - Classics are classics for a reason, and the elegant, key-shaped neon sign at the Hotel Donaldson on the corner of Broadway and First Avenue North in Fargo has become an icon. The current sign went up in 2001 and was built on the template of the previous sign, which had been on display for 60 years. Another sign predated that one. The classic look of the sign ties it to the old-school canopy that graces the south doors of the business. It's our identity, and it is our logo, said Karen Stoker, who owns the hotel. She choked up when asked if she has an emotional connection to the sign. It represents a great deal to me, she said. (J. Shane Mercer / The Forum)
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TnTool Repair - The sign at TnTool Repair, 221 21st St. N., Moorhead, is proof that a shingle doesn't need to be huge or lit with LEDs to have impact. The red and yellow wrench-clutching fist that rises toward the sky has a powerful, confident, even revolutionary feel about it. Plus the sign conveys the name, what the company does and how to contact the owners all in one fell swoop. (J. Shane Mercer / The Forum)
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