South Lake Union trophy shop speaks sign language

Changeable sign is changing the way residents see their neighborhood. Monty Holmes' company, Athletic Awards, has been creating trophies and other items to acknowledge achievement for nearly 70 years. But what's happening on the marquee above the store

SEATTLE - There's a sign of the times in South Lake Union.

Monty Holmes' company, Athletic Awards, has been creating trophies and other items to acknowledge achievement for nearly 70 years.  But what's happening on the marquee above the store deserves a trophy all its own.

"Always something a little different," Holmes said. 

That's an understatement.

Sometimes, it's a weather report, such as "Tonight's Forecast: Dark."

Other days, you'll find a faux political rant, like "Legalize Onion Spray."

In 45 characters or less, they're keeping it real, and ridiculous, with weekly musings that turn heads. But sometimes the messages leave neighbors scratching their heads.

"It's ridiculousness that no one should think too hard about," said employee Jerry Nash, the man behind the madness, and such gems as "Tom Waits While Jeremy Irons," which may or may not have been borrowed from a source on the web.

"Jerry is the master," Holmes said.

Monty Holmes' son, Ben, is Nash's partner in sign. Their signs tweet out topical commentary on current events, philosophical ponderings and just plain gibberish, like "Gone Hot Tubbin'."

"The fact that people are confused by it, I almost think is funnier than the joke itself," Nash explained. "It's like your confusion is the joke."

A frequent subject of Ben and Jerry's prose is their boss, Dave, who doesn't seem to mind.

Nash recalled, "One time when Dave asked me to change it to something other than what was already up there, I was like, how about if I just put: 'Dave asked me to change the sign and so I did?' And that kind of started the whole thing."

Some of these manic messages spring to mind in a minute.

"Like 'Dope Beats,'" Nash said of one sign that included an arrow showing where those beats could be found.

Ben Holmes added, "My grandpa didn't like that one."

Others, including one that read "If it's in stock, we have it," require careful contemplation.

"I really like the process of working through and making the joke," Ben Holmes said.

No digital displays for these guys. Each letter is placed on the sign one-by-one.

Monty Holmes said, "The old-fashioned way with the stick and the suction cup, and up they go."

So, if you're looking for a sign that some people still have a sense of humor, you'll find it right here in South Lake Union.

Athletic Awards
817 Republican St.
Seattle, WA 98109-4715

 

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