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Lita Smith-Mines

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The Signs, They Are A-Fadin'

Posted: 10/26/2010 10:32 am

Driving along a large retail road the other evening, I wondered where the florist on a very busy corner went. Moreover, what the heck was ORIS, which the display sign proclaimed was sold there instead?

Nearby there was an ELI and a KE SHOP and a CE BA. Across the street was a JEWE and a MAR AR STUD. Further down I spied TY SUPPLIES, ACY and SSAGES. Had all the local businesses failed, and what were these strange stores peddling?

Now that I was focusing, I saw that more than a few of the retail establishments bearing the name of my home town of Commack now had only the letters ACK or MMA or COMM lit up across the front of their store. It dawned on me that I didn't happen to drive down the turnpike on the day a bulb or two burned out atop one store or another. What I was seeing was the combined neglect of many retailers (or landlords), who individually may have thought better of shelling out the money it took to restore the B and the A and the G over the bagel store or to pay the electric bill for a lighted logo display during this depressing recession.

Maybe there were bigger priorities than reenergizing the CHIN above the store that now proclaimed it sold ESE FOOD. If the ingredients couldn't be bought and the cooks paid, the restaurant would surely go under. From the looks of it, perhaps the store that caters to "big & tall" men needed to worry about paying for the merchandise on its shelves. In that case, it might be understandable why they delayed fixing the G & TALL ME sign. Landlords with fewer tenants could certainly plot out a way to string along the last few renters by postponing the maintenance on a shopping center's nighttime signage.

As an observer merely driving by store after store after store adorned with strange arrangements of letters, I cannot know how much thought each retailer or property owner puts into the lighted logos. It is logical to suppose that they spend their days and nights worrying about paying for inventory, meeting payroll, and otherwise finding the cash to keep their doors open. However, I do know that the local mom & pop, bricks & mortar establishments are having a hell of a time surviving this economic climate. Thus, the lack of illumination at such stores can't bode well for their continued existence. How will things improve for the pizza store that will bring the food to me if the glow above their doorframe shouts WE DELIV? Will anyone driving along at night know that a local jeweler guarantees to pay the best price for gold if all they see is W PAY TOP $$ FO? If a hungry driver is looking on both sides of the street for an enticing place to stop, I'm willing to bet that the eatery offering BUG & FRI is probably not going to be very tempting.

 

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