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Type in the Wild: Store Signs

July 23, 2015

Hello, dear readers! I hope your week is going well. Can you believe we are nearing the end of July? I can’t hardly either. I’ve just gotten back from a visit with family, which was lovely. Although the best part was spending time with my family, one of the fun things we did was visit downtown Flagstaff. I’d never been before and was happy to spot so many wonderful, interesting, and fun store signs while there. As I was writing about typography in my last post, it seemed too good not to share. So today, some thoughts on store signs before I head off.

I’m sharing four photos of signs I saw in Flagstaff that I thought were interesting. I was excited to see so many store signs and such a variety of typefaces used in the compact downtown. First up is a photo of the aspen loft artists’ sign.

Sign for aspen loft artists

Sign for aspen loft artists

I really like this sign (what would you expect but a lovely sign for an artists’ loft?). Although slightly difficult to see in this photo, the “t” in “loft” is actually an arrow pointing up, a fun touch for this sign. I also like the combination of the large serif “a” in “artists” combined with the rest of the lettering in san serif. A nice combination and nod to the older family of typefaces (serifs) along with the newer (san serifs). Also, the kerning is great. Nothing worse than a poorly kerned sign, as xkcd reminds us.

This next sign for Babbitt’s Mercantile is fun and reminds me of the typeface game we played in one of the letterpress classes I took when we tried to determine the feel of different type and when we would use it.

Babbitts Mercantile

Babbitts Mercantile

The typefaces picked for this mercantile store (a camping and outdoor gear store) make it look like it’s been around for a long time. The typefaces picked look like they could have been used in a flyer set with a platen press and fastened to the local news board. They are fun and work well as display type (not something you’d want to read an entire paragraph in, but great at large sizes for a name or headline). I was a bit sad not to see the same typefaces used on the store’s website, but they caught my eye walking around Flagstaff.

Being a college town, there were a lot of pubs and bars in downtown Flagstaff and they all had interesting signs. However, I had to show the sign for Uptown Pubhouse because of its coat of arms.

Uptown Pubhouse

Uptown Pubhouse

Doesn’t it look like it should be hanging in a street in London rather than in Flagstaff? The coat of arms says history and age, even though we can see that it is just over two decades old. The typeface is a serif, though one that looks a bit more modern than say choosing a Blackletter typeface. It is a striking sign that is also featured on the pub’s website, a nice tie for branding.

The last sign I wanted to share is something different from the pub and much more lighthearted in its use of type.

The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House

The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House

This sign is fun, light, and sweet, just like the candy (and gelato) found inside. The colors (pink and green), along with the typefaces chosen, make it look like an inviting and slightly silly place to cure your chocolate craving. It just goes to show that a typeface that would have no place on a sign for a Celtic-inspired pub or a mercantile can look just right for a candy shop.

So that’s it for me today in typography and signs. I love seeing custom signs with something other than the standard typefaces we see everyday when staring at our computer screens or reading a book. Display typefaces are so much fun, especially when used in creative ways that seem to convey the essence of a business. So much type, so little time! I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, dear readers. Allons-y!

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