The amazing portable signs of rural America

As I drove along Route 28, I was taken in by the fantastic flexibility of these ubiquitous billboards

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The amazing portable signs of rural America
This article originally appeared on Imprint.

Imprint
I’ve been slightly obsessed with portable roadside signage since I first encountered a stretch of white boxes with flashing red arrows along Route 28 in upstate New York. I’d certainly seen that form of advertising before, but didn’t realize how ubiquitous it was throughout rural America (or admittedly, what little I know of rural America).

I fantasized about owning a portable sign of my very own, and made mental lists of what it would say. In the end, the beauty of the sign was in its flexibility. I could advertise a pancake breakfast one week and a yard sale the next. Maybe I’d post words of wisdom, or raise philosophical questions. I could keep it in the yard as an art installation of sorts, or hitch it to my car and drag it to the end of the driveway to alert the fire department. It seemed like an investment that would pay for itself.

I was surprised that portable signs actually weren’t that expensive. I could get a nice setup for under $500, or for about $1,300 on wheels. Poking around online to find distributors was easy-breezy; there was no shortage of reader board vendors. The font selection was a bit sparse, but several sources had fancy faux dimensional options (though I’m a traditionalist and would stick to the simple “Block”). A design tip on signwire.com cautions, ”Always, always check your spelling.” Words to live by.



Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2012.

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