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Jerry Clark

Prize Closet Gems

To get around extra costs, some ways work better than others.




WHO DOESN’T LIKE to get away from the shop for an afternoon? Anywhere I travel, I must drive through a National Forest to get there. The scenery is beautiful even on a crappy day. On this occasion, my destination was Jamestown, NY. A 60-mile trip to pick up a couple of pan faces and a sign cabinet to light them up. As I am en route, I am hoping that Gene (the owner) will be there. Gene always makes a fuss that I spend the time and mileage to pick up my order in person, but little does he know, I am beating him out of the motor freight and crate/pallet fee.

After he asks how I, the wife and kids are doing, he would always say, “Let’s take a trip to the prize closet.” I never know what to expect from this vault. On a previous trip, one gem he pulled was a coffee mug with his logo on one side and “Master Sign Makers” on the other. I am looking at it right now as my Stabillo pencils tower over the rim.

This visit, Gene had an extra big smile. He had just folded a couple dozen T-shirts with his logo splashed on the entire front with the corporate colors. He guessed my size and handed me (what he thought) was the best promo item ever.

Yes, it was.

About a month later on another road trip to Jamestown, we were walking down the hallway to the prize closet. Gene stopped halfway down the hall and asked, “Jerry, do you ever wear the Hanson Sign Co. shirt I gave you last month?”

“Yes,” I said. “It has become one of my favorite T-shirts and I wear it on Sundays.”

With a puzzled expression he asked, “Why do you wear it only on Sundays?”

“Sunday is the day I install signs in towns that require sign permits and I don’t have one,” I replied.

That was the last trip to the prize closet.


Jerry Clark has owned Sign Design of Westline (Westline, PA) in the "PA Wilds" of Pennsylvania since 1985. A former student, soldier, student and bar manager, Jerry knows how to work a crowd and can be reached at [email protected].



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