Terry Eaton, in charge of printing and sign-making at Opportunity Center Printing and Signs on McClellan Boulevard, said he has seen a steady increase in sales over the past few months.
“I would say that there has probably been about a 30 to 35 percent increase,” said Eaton, who added that the majority of the new revenue is due to sign purchases by the various political candidates who frequent the shop.
More than 100 people have qualified to run for municipal offices — mayorships, council seats and school board seats — in Calhoun County’s six cities. Mayoral candidates alone have already spent more than $93,000 in campaign funds, according to campaign records, though not all of that is spent on signs.
Easton said Anniston municipal candidates are his best customers.
Eaton would not discuss which candidates in particular frequented the store, but did say that employees handle every candidate’s requests in the exact same way — regardless of political affiliation. For political candidates, the entire process, from the time they come into the store with an idea, to the time it takes to design and print the signs, requires about a week, said Eaton.
The key is keeping things professional.
“It’s more or less a business deal, and just that,” said Eaton.
Even sign-makers who don’t specialize in political advertising are getting some extra business this year.
“I’ve been in the sign-making business for 32 years, and I made the first political sign of my career just last week,” said John Norton, of John Norton Signs.
Norton the sign-maker said he’s not related to the other John Norton — an Anniston lawyer who is among the 11 candidates for mayor of the city — but he said his name gets plenty of attention.
“I get calls in the middle of the night,” Norton said with a laugh. “That John Norton doesn’t paint signs and I don’t practice law.”
Norton added that although he knows the political atmosphere boosts sign sales for some of his competitors, things have remained relatively quiet at his storefront. Norton specializes in more commercial-related signs.
“I’ll do lettering on trucks, some replacement signs, magnetic signs for cars,” said Norton. “It’s good advertising.”
Norton said prices range anywhere from a couple of dollars to a couple hundred dollars—all depending on the materials and time needed. For example, the signs he printed for one of the political candidates, which were bought by one of the candidate’s supporters, cost $800 total for an order of 10 double-faced, 4-foot-by-4-foot signs.
Norton said things have remained slow on the commercial side.
“People are holding back, they are saving their money, holding on to whatever money they have,” said Norton. “Most are not willing to make a sacrifice right now because they don’t know what the economy will look like for them.”
— Ana Rodriguez
Dee Ford returns with new business
Former Anniston restaurant and bar owner Dee Ford is back in business with Dee Ford’s Old Mill Saloon, which is open Tuesdays through Sundays on Alabama 77 in Waldo, south of Talladega.
Ford’s new restaurant will specialize in steaks, chicken and seafood. It opens at 4 p.m. each day except Mondays.
A community festival set for Sat., Aug. 4, called the Redneck Regatta, has attracted the attention of the Country Music Television’s “Redneck Island” crew. They will screen for participants who will live on an island and compete for $100,000, similar to the “Survivor” show.
Starting at 10 that morning, children’s games and food/craft vendors will be set up in front of the restaurant, which is beside Talladega Creek.
Old-fashioned games will begin at noon and will include watermelon-seed-spitting contests and horseshoes.
Sometime between 2-3 p.m. several bands will begin performing behind the restaurant, where Ford and his employees have refurbished an old stage. The festival is free, but the concert costs $10.
Ford’s nightclub which bore his name operated from 1983-2001 on Wilmer Avenue in Anniston.
— Sherry Kughn