Sign of the times: Local company offering free banners to businesses

Keeping customers informed a good way to reduce frustration

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When Jamie Thole went to lunch earlier this week, he was frustrated when his favorite café was closed. His frustration turned to agitation when he had to walk to the door and read the fine print on an 8½-by-11 piece of paper where the owners try to explain their regrettable situation.

That’s when he got the idea to provide free banners to all business during the crisis created by COVID-19.

“I was tired of getting out of my car to walk up to a door to see what was going on,” Thole said from his Custom Graphics and Sign Designs. “I figured if everyone had a banner, it was a nice way to give back.”

Here’s the catch: there’s no catch.

“There are no strings attached,” he said. “Tell us what you need, and we’ll make it.”

For free.

The offer applies to 4 feet-by- 2 feet banners. Business owners who want to keep their customers informed only need to visit signs@cgsigns.net and clicking on the “Restaurant Relief” tab, or call the company at (904) 264-7667, extension 2.

Custom Graphics and Sign Designs was started by Tholes’ parents, Marvin and Patti Thole, in 1987. “I’ve been in here since I was old enough to walk,” Jamie said. All three are part of the project to support their community.

The company decided to reach out to the area it serves – Clay, St. Johns and Duval counties – during a desperate time. Some businesses are closed. Others are operating with limited services. And a select few have been able to maintain customary hours.

“We won’t turn anybody away,” Thole said.

“When you have a sign visible from the road it makes it easier,” Thole said. “Even if it’s closed, it’s good to know. These are tough times. People are struggling. I’m here to help the small businesses in my community. We’re just trying to make it a little easier. Whatever you want on the sign, we’ll do it. And we’ll do it for free.”

Hours at the shop have been reduced by an hour in the morning and an hour at closing so the family can disinfect the counters and machinery. Even with fewer posted hours, the family is prepared to work past closing time to make sure their neighbors are better served in a time of need.

“Nobody wants to drive up, get out and have to read a paper notice,” Thole said. “I’m sure the business hates doing it. Customers don’t like it either. This can help. The best way to get through this is by working together.”

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