Furniture business uses sign to inspire rather than entice
FARMINGTON >> Storefront signs normally try to grab your attention with promises of impossible-to-resist sales within.
But for the 21 years she has run her furniture store, Shanna Bird has used her business' roadside sign to grab people's attention in a different way.
Bird -- the 52-year-old owner of Freight Direct Furniture on the east end of Main Street in Farmington -- likes to inspire the best in people. Bird's reader board sign that faces westbound traffic is aimed toward the philosophic or inspirational rather than register sales.
"Gosh, probably 20 years we've had that sign there," Bird said. "We've been putting up the inspirational things. When we put something up like a sale, people call and ask for us to bring back the uplifting messages instead."
Bird said she can't recall why she began using the sign to post messages, but somehow they stuck.
One of her favorites, a line by actress Ruth Gordon, she's posted more than once through the years. It says, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"
"We hope it starts people's day off right," she said. "We find them in different places. It used to be just from books, before the Internet. We'd write them down. Sometimes we get calls saying, 'I liked it, thank you, it brightened my day.'"
Bird's son, David Lane Bird, penned a message she posted on her road sign when he was 16 after a bad accident. He wrote, "You can be afraid of death but not living your life is more frightening."
"He wrote it after being in a coma for five days," Bird said. "My son died in a car wreck five years after that. A lot of people don't live their lives. A lot (of people) muddle around and don't really seize the day. My son did and I think of his message a lot. We've put that up through the years. It's one we go back to, because, well, it makes you think."
Alexa Michaels, 18, a salesperson, started working at Bird's store a month ago and found herself soon posting messages on the sign with manager Stephen Soto.
"We'll look at Facebook or Google images to find a short slogan or something that fits the season," Michaels said. "I think (the messages) are cool. I just changed the sign (on Thursday) to 'Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow -- 2014.'"
Before that, the sign read, "May your presents be many and your troubles be few," a fitting complement to the mad-dash holiday shopping fervor that takes over America every December.
"It's nice fun to search for messages to show people," Michaels said. "Sometimes it's just the littlest things that can draw your attention."
Michaels recently got a tattoo of a message, "Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace," that she found online. She said she might post it sometime.
Bird thinks the messages are a quirky but positive way to get people's attention.
"We change it pretty often and it's been very enlightening for us and hopefully for others through the years," Bird said. "(Passers by) have got to know it's positive people inside. It's not all about a sale but to make somebody's day happier and go better. I'm really selling good vibes. I hope people slow down to notice."