It’s kind of been a “cat and mouse” game over the past couple years for the Nursery at Mount Si owner, Nels Melgaard. He’s referring to the A-board signs placed at two to three visible spots on North Bend city streets/sidewalks that help direct people to the nursery’s out-of-the-way, rural location.
The problem is, North Bend has an ordinance against such off-site signage on city rights of ways and not located within 15 feet of the business the sign advertises. So for as many times as Nels put out the signs, the city was required to remove them – and did fairly consistently for the last two years. Nels says, “When the A-board signs are in town, it is surprising how much more traffic we get.”
Deciding he was tired of the cat and mouse game (and dishonest feelings) created each time he took his signs into town, Nels and Nursery at Mount Si staff decided to try something new – a new type of sign campaign.
The new signs are popping up all over North Bend (and even Snoqualmie) now, but only on private property. Nels offered the “We Support The Nursery At Mount Si” signs to customers and residents to place in their yards and/or private property – the more visible locations the better.
The simple goal of these signs is to remind people about their local garden center. Nels says, “My only goal was to give people a chance to show support, remind others there is a great local nursery in town. I figured maybe out-of-town folks could look us up on their smart phones and finds us.”
There’s been an outpouring of support for Nels, past recipient of North Bend’s Citizen of the Year award, and his long-time nursery; leaving some asking why the city can’t simply leave the nursery’s signs alone and help out a local, out-of-the-way business.
It’s not that simple, though. The North Bend city council spent a lot of time over the past eight years trying to balance the needs of small businesses against what they think could become A-board signage overload. The city’s sign ordinance applies to all businesses, in or outside the city limits. North Bend Mayor, Ken Hearing, explained, “The issue was hotly debated, but a compromise was reached….the code is applied to everyone fairly and equally.”
Nels says he doesn’t want to be an exception to the signage code; that he understands the city’s position on the enforcement. He says, “The mayor and the city council are good folks and I did not intend to cause any grief with them.” Nels thinks maybe better directional signs in town would help the nursery and other businesses not located on the main drag or in a retail complex.
For the time being, Nels will stick to keeping his new signs on private property and hope for future city signage options that might help direct people to out-of-the-way businesses like The Nursery at Mount Si. To keep up with the nursery and/or find out about specials, visit their website or Facebook page