May 7—WATERVILLE — As a friendly "sign war" circulated among businesses throughout the city over the past two weeks, The Barber Parlor's business took off right with it.
"We had a bunch of new people walk in today and our social media has gone through the roof," said
Call it a sign of the times as local business owners seek out humor and lightness as the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic enter a second year.
Beginning at the end of April, a handful of area businesses began engaging in the fun. Establishments took to their electronic and changing-letter signs to poke fun at one another with slight jabs, taunts and some friendly competition.
Although not every business can directly attribute burgeoning business from the exercise, it's been "fun, laughs and smiles," said
The #centralMainesignwar hashtag is popularizing on Facebook and many of the posts get hundreds of engagements.
"The world has kind of needed some humor and something to look forward to," Lee said. "I think with the nature of the COVID world the last year and a half, I think it's given people something fun to look forward to."
With a little prodding, Lee made the first move. On
Wendy's responded with: "
And thus, the central
Business picked up at Wendy's during the time of the sign war, though some of that is likely attributed to the McDonald's restaurant across being closed for renovations. Nonetheless, Wendy's manager
"Sometimes I have a little bit of a time figuring out what I want to say," Nickerson said. "We're getting great feedback and it gives people something to look forward to."
Within a few days of the Wendy's and
On Saturday, Silver Street's rotating sign read "Hey AYCC, after your workout, come to happy hour to treat yo self."
"Everyone around town seems to be loving it," Sharp said. "It's good entertainment, and people need something positive, funny and happy in the world today."
On Friday, the Alfond Youth Center seemed to be taking aim at The Barber Parlor, with one of its electronic messages stating: "Our childcare staff is a CUT above the rest."
The sign war has spread beyond
"I think people love it," said
"I can't see how it would hurt because the more exposure you can get, the more people you reach, the more people know you're here," Carlow said.
"It's lighthearted and businesses are playing with each other," Coelho said. "This is community."
Although Lee himself hasn't seen a major spike in insurance business, he's become somewhat of a local celebrity.
"People now flag me down at Hannaford when I get my groceries if I'm wearing my
After watching the sign war develop for a few days, The Barber Parlor's Lennon ordered a sign from Minuteman Signs in
"They were having too much fun," Lennon said, "and I wanted to play too."
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