The Beer Depot gets new sign with familiar look
Ben Freed | AnnArbor.com
“It’s more rewarding than anything else,” said Ian Gray, a media consultant for the store.
“We’re doing so many things in this city with the high rises and new developments that take away from the character of the city, it’s great to see this get back to the way it should be.”
A storm damaged the sign, which hung outside the store at 114 E. William St. since the 1960s, in April 2011.
City ordinances initially frustrated owner Joe Kouza’s efforts to restore and re-install the downtown fixture.
“In the end, the city was very helpful,” Gray said. “The codes and ordinances just aren’t designed to make something like this very easy.”
The Beer Depot’s website had a “Save our Sign” blog and the store launched an indiegogo campaign to fundraise. Gray said that while the campaign was not an overwhelming success, the attention it attracted led some anonymous donors to approach the store privately and offer larger donations.
In September 2012, Gray said the cost to restore the sign was approximately $20,000.
“The big snag was with the insurance company,” he said. “They refused to pay, so we had to take them to court where we got a closed-door settlement.”
Once everything was squared away with the city and the funding, Wayne-based JAN Signs, LLC was contracted to restore the sign. Just the shell of the sign was up on Thursday, but Jim Bolton of JAN Signs said that neon lighting would be installed sometime after February 11, once the electrical permits are taken care of.
“People say that supposedly a sign doesn’t impact business,” Gray said.
“But sales have been down 10-20 percent over the past two years since the sign was down, so we really can’t wait for this to help pick things back up.”
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2