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Garage Style Magazine
Garages in History

Sign of the Times

Funny thing about collectors; they seem to take a similar course regardless of the “object” of their affliction.  Whether its stamps, coins, arrowheads, radiator mascots, license plates or oil cans, the trajectory of their collection philosophy is familiar to all of us (who collect).

At the onset, most collectors want “everything” that relates to their interest. Rarity, condition, and value takes a back seat to “accumulating.”  As they progress into mature collecting, they refine their selection criteria.  They may concentrate on condition or a specific “niche” to their collecting.  It’s not unusual for stamp collectors to concentrate on one category, air mail stamps, or stamps from defunct countries, or printing errors.

Radiator mascot collectors may limit their collections to mascots depicting mythological figures, animals, female forms or those that move with the action of the wind.  Likewise, license plate collectors may base their collections on leather plates, porcelain plates, specific years or sample plates.  Oil can collectors may only collect cans with aviation artwork, or regional brands, or those with racing graphics.  Sign collectors may start out with any gas or oil related signs and may gravitate to a single company.  Examples of those might be Shell, Texaco, Oilzum, Gulf, or Castrol.  The same can be said for tire signs, battery, wax, or spark plug signs.

The focus of this article is to showcase signs with the word “Garage” in them.  What would be more appropriate then a sign with “garage” for Garage Style Magazine?

There’s a source, a “one stop shop” for new “garage signs.”  None of the “garage” signs at Hobby Lobby should be considered reproduction or replica signs, but more novelty signs.  They are colorful, decorative, inexpensive, and plentiful.  Some are “weathered,” and some are three dimensional.  They are sensibly priced, with probably no potential as investments.  Hobby Lobby often offers them at 50% off and always offers one item discounts at 40% off.  Of course, they will be immediately rejected and dismissed by die-hard collectors of authentic signs, buy you can survive the “snobbery.”

While the adage “don’t consider them as investments” has traditionally been associated with reproduction signs, it’s not always the case.  Years ago, at the Hershey flea market, there was a metal sign that was a copy of the famous magazine ad for the 1930’s Jordan roadster, the ad that announced, “Somewhere West of Laramie.”  This was thought to be a game-changing ad in its time.  For one thing, it was novel for a car ad not to be promoting its features, but instead a “legacy,” and it was also based on it appealing to women.  It is often studied in business school, advertising circles, and marketing groups.  It was striking and had instant appeal to me, and I was very tempted to buy it.  I walked away thinking it was “only a reproduction” and therefore I could “always” get it.  Over the years I saw them in several vendors’ booths and always shrugged my shoulders thinking that reproduction signs aren’t of any value.  The signs were limited to a run of 100 and were numbered.  They were becoming scarce.  By the time I decided to acquire one, the prices had escalated into the realm of highly sought after “authentic” signs.  This wasn’t even a reproduction sign since Jordan never made it as a sign, only as a print ad.

The best adage is to buy what you like (with little or no regard to what the motivation is).  While Hobby Lobby doesn’t promote them as being a limited number, don’t be surprised if months from now you go back to buy the mass produced “Dad’s garage,” or “My Garage, My rules” and they’re gone.  Remember, this is a mass merchandising item and with almost a thousand stores many of them (as they say in retail), “fly off the shelves.”  There are already many examples of them being either out of stock, discontinued, or unavailable.  There are even starting to show up at flea markets and swap meets.

The same lesson you should have learned when you passed up that rare sign for WHIZ polish or SPHINX spark plugs should be applied to the garage signs at Hobby Lobby…..”Buy it when you see it.”  It’s based on the rationale that the guy who saw it yesterday and hesitated came back to buy it and was out of luck today.

It’s a sign of the times. | GSM

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