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Outdoor Sign Saves Childhood Business

Remember when life was simple? School was out for the summer and you spent your days catching grasshoppers and trying to build a bridge across the creek out back. And then you realized that your bridge would be much more structurally sound, and certainly the talk of all your friends, if only you had better building materials instead of settling for your Dad's rusty old nail collection and the brittle twigs strewn across the yard. Hmmm, you're going to need some money. Dang.

Then one morning you awaken with a plan so brilliant that it shines brighter than the morning sun shimmering off the glistening dew drops. Okay, that may be a bit much, but at least your plan shone as brightly as the dim glow from that poor little firefly in the jar on your nightstand. Yes, you need to make some money so you decide to SELL something. Oh, wonderful! You are a genius, but what can you possibly sell? Hmmm, your baby sister? No, that might upset Mom. Hmm, your comic books? What!? Not on your life. Finally I came up with a solution. I, like every other budding young entrepreneur, started my very own lemonade stand.

So, after evaluating my resources (Lemonade? Check. Table? Check. Sign? Check.), and doing some research (or at least reading the Peanuts comic strip to see just how Lucy did it), I put my dream into action. I will admit that finding the capital for my initial start-up was one of the greatest challenges, as my father's frugality easily makes Ebeneezer Scrooge look philanthropic. But Mom turned out to be good at "resource development" and was able to talk Dad into floating me a loan with a good interest rate.

Then, with my pockets overflowing with ambition and borrowed money, I headed towards the store and bought the necessary goods to get my start-up started up. I used the powdered lemonade mix because it was really cheap and then I added a little "sha-zam" with one thin slice of lemon on the side of each cup to make it look like the real deal. (At this point I have to wonder whether that involved questionable business ethics or simply good marketing strategy...)

Eager to begin business the next morning, I lined up perfect rows of cups in my mind while visions of paying customers danced through my head. And, at the crack of 7:30 am, I sprung from my bed and put the finishing touches on my masterpiece. Our dilapidated old card table never looked so grand as it did that beautiful summer morning, covered by a soft blue gingham tablecloth and boasting those perfect rows of cups I'd envisioned. A bowl of bright yellow lemons to display and of course, my huge "Lemonade 25 cents" outdoor sign completed this delightful glimpse of nostalgic capitalism. And then I waited.

And I waited.

A couple cars passed by, and my neighbors smiled and waved. A few bought "pity" cups of refreshing ice-cold lemonade, but obviously, this wasn't the instantly gratifying cash cow I had predicted. I needed more traffic, I needed a way to get people to see my lovely refreshment stand in all its glory...because I was going to have to pay my dad back. More determined than ever, I looked over my previous research (read the funnies again) and concluded that Lucy's signs were tons better than mine. She had interchangeable sign parts for adjusting prices to reflect the highly delicate balance of supply and demand. And she had moveable parts for announcing the open and close of business (I gathered this from the "the doctor is in/out" signs from her secondary psychiatry business).

I knew what had to be done so I got busy right away, measuring and snipping away with Mom's best sewing shears (I didn't know they were only for fabric...) until I had transformed that boring old tablecloth into 4 stunning achievements of advertising wizardry. Each beautiful sign became a replica of my lemonade stand - the bright white upper half of my outdoor signage still boldly announced "lemonade 25 cents" as the bottom half was dressed in the flowing tablecloth to recreate the shape of my table. Two carefully placed metal rods became the table legs as well as the stakes for posting my signs into the ground on strategic high-traffic intersections of suburbia. I cut slits in the bottom of my bright red plastic cups so I could fasten them to the top of my custom outdoor signs to look like the inviting drink was sitting right on top of my table/sign. This 3D component of my sign also featured a huge arrow that steered viewers right to my refreshing lemonade stand.

And just as they always say, "the rest is history." I was able to pay my dad back in no time and even bought Mom a new pair of sewing shears. The creek, however, never was successfully spanned in a way that could support the weight of anyone heavier than a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade. (I guess it's a good thing that I stuck with marketing and advertising rather than engineering.)

Business trends come and go, but there are some "signs" of success that can always be counted on: creativity, innovation, ambition, and ingenuity. At TheSignChef.com, we exemplify these ideals and have been creating recipes for success for our loyal clients for nearly 25 years. Come see what innovative ideas we are cooking up now!

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