Matt Wilson and Jared O’Toole are two amazing guys with traditional backgrounds in business and finance. But while their backgrounds might be traditional, Wilson and O’Toole are anything but. It was quickly apparent that the corporate path was not for them; they were more interested in entrepreneurship. In 2009 they co-founded their company, Under30Media, to provide resources and inspiration to help other talented young entrepreneurs find their own paths. Their first venture, Under30CEO.com, took off quickly, gaining exposure on MSNBC and BusinessWeek. Subsequent sites include Under30Finance.com, Under30Careers.com and Under30Experiences.com. Read More
A few days ago we posted my interview with Danielle Kelly from The Neon Museum in Las Vegas. During the interview she mentioned that I must reach out to the Society for Commercial Archeology. She said if you love the older, lesser know signs and buildings of America’s roadsides and are interested in helping preserve them, those are the guys to talk to. So I did just that and they didn’t disappoint.
When I spoke to Ralph Wilcox, the Society for Commercial Archeology’s secretary, I envisioned this Indiana Jones-esque group of individuals combing through dilapidated commercial buildings in search of relics from the past. OK, so I over romanticized a little bit, but in truth the SCA is the largest national organization devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape. Read More
Update: 4/22/2013: While I was attending the 2013 International Sign Association’s Sign Expo in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down with Bryan over lunch to discuss the latest happenings with the Vegas Vernacular. It had been about 6 months since our first interview and I wanted to get an update on the organization, what they are currently working on and what’s next……oh and to get my print of the Desert Moon Motel I ordered!
Although I loved meeting Bryan at the art exhibit back in September of 2012, this time around was even better. We went to an incredible little place to eat, called EAT, in old downtown and just talked signage. It was the first time I had ever just walked around that area and it really gave me an appreciation for what Bryan and his team are trying to document. Once you get away from the Strip, you realize that a whole other world exists. Just walking and driving down Freemont Street – away from the tourist traps – you quickly realize what Vegas was truly about. It’s not about the massive Casinos. It’s about the hundreds of family owned motels and businesses that lined the streets. Each one with a unique story. Each one on the verge of disappearing.
Although they have accumulated around 50,000 images, there is still more to be done. Much of their current projects are based on immediate necessity. Not only are the smaller motels and building being closed down, they are being torn down. Bryan said that just knowing what properties are next is difficult. Then trying to get in to photograph them can be an even bigger challenge.
But, aside from the constant need to document the signs, Bryan and his team are right in the middle of creating a platform to catalog and display the images. The best part of the platform, they want to make it available to other organizations, in other cities, to allow them to accomplish the same goal as the Vegas Vernacular. A national platform for all to use as inspiration and education. They have also spent some time trying to track down the artists, like “King” Richard Harris, who actually created the hand painted signage. Their personal stories are as much a part of the dialogue as the signs they created!
For the most part, things continue at breakneck speed for the Vegas Vernacular and the ever changing landscape of Las Vegas sure keeps Bryan on his toes. Let’s just hope he is quick enough to document it before it’s gone! Read More
Born From Necessity
As I sat across from Danielle Kelly, the executive director of The Neon Museum, I almost forgot that we were discussing old, beat up, and sometimes forgotten signs. In fact, I felt that we could have been talking about a recently discovered Picasso or Van Gogh original. That’s how passionate Danielle is about her beloved museum and the works of art that she and her team painstakingly curates.
Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and restoring iconic Las Vegas signage to display and educate future generations on the area’s unique art form. But, according to Danielle, the path to what visitors see today when they come to the Neon Museum is a far cry from where they started. Read More
Founded in 1977, Vintage Oak is a great place for Salt Lake City residents to find quality traditional, mission-style and rustic wood furniture, along with a great selection of leather sofas, love seats, sectionals and chairs. And the best part? Much of the inventory at Vintage Oak is crafted locally in Utah. President and CEO, Jim Blanda, met with me to share his success story and to talk about buying and selling locally. Read More
Today, we are pleased to bring you an interview with Brendan Ciecko, the founder of Fontly, a great mobile app and website that allows users to photograph, tag and upload images of vintage and hand painted signs. Brendan also runs Ten Minute Media, a creative design, marketing and branding company with a focus on the music and entertainment industry. Enjoy!
Betsy Burton opened The King’s English Bookstore in 1977, with a business partner and just a few thousand dollars in start-up money. Now, more than 30 years later, the bookshop is a vibrant, vital part of the Salt Lake City community. I sat down with Betsy a few weeks ago to ask her about running an independent bookshop during this time of big bookstore chains.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with Jim Oswald, an antique sign collector. I was prepared to go in and see a room with a few dozen old signs and hear a few stories. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise! Jim not only has hundreds of signs, he has a wealth of knowledge about what he collects. I stayed for over two hours before I could tear myself away . . . I could have spent an entire week learning from Jim and enjoying his amazing collection.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Rick Cochran, President and CEO of MMIC (Mobile Medical International Corporation). Mr. Cochran was named the 2011 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Association. He has also received many other awards for his contributions to business and community and in 1999 was inducted into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.