Archives for category: Retail & Signage
Tree HUgGAs, unite!

Tree HUgGAs, unite!

I drove by this tree transplanter for several days before I got to see the contraption at work. A South Carolina-based team received a large-sized grant from the University of Georgia to plant trees throughout the campus over the course of a year. They’re at around 1,000 now…mostly oaks. Makes me wonder where.

UGA has traditionally kept immaculate grounds while maintaining storied shade. Nevertheless, since my college days here, lawns and grassy or vacant spots have disappeared. So much of the green space has been taken over by awkward-looking, chunky McBuildings. These monstrosities are far too big for their respective lots. What’s more, their boxy structures can only mean that the sites were clear cut.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

In this case, the land was for as long as I can remember a field, possibly a cotton one, as Athens was once a key brokerage center for the southern commodity. The row here stands in front of what will next year be the university’s new $105 million Veterinary Teaching Hospital. (“Equine Teaching Unit” once marked an entrance, but the sign is gone, and there’s no replacement.) Perhaps they haven’t figured out what to call it yet or are waiting to honor a major donor with naming rights. Some fortuitous timing in this Chinese year of the horse!

A dirt missile.

A dirt missile.

Big John lifts a 10,000-pound root ball. That’s mega dirt! The tines nudge closer and closer together, disappearing into the earth. In a matter of minutes, the four steel arms cradle the red clay in a tightly closed tulip form and raise the entire plug onto the lift bed. The guys then truck this off to a nearby tree farm where it is swapped out for a newbie. Hydraulics are amazing.


Come what may….

I stumbled upon this place in the town over. A shame they did not hit the mark with the logo. Kumquats are so beautiful; they are pretty on and off the tree. Citrusy goodness, too…skin and all!

No matter what might be happening, get to Watkinsville soon for a simple (but not simple-tasting) home-cooked breakfast or lunch while you take in the local art on the wall.

Visual/verbal messaging disconnect.

As I was busy being green, I was not too busy to notice a little trash humor. However, this sign is misleading…showing more what you might find at a landfill and not the recycling bin. I would have expected an illustration of boxes, cardboard, paper, bottles, cans and plastic…but not of dirt, a fish skeleton and worms. A vulture trying to find sustenance in a heap of the former would, indeed, be as lean as the one depicted.

Maybe in an attempt to redress the confusion, another warning advised that if you left anything other than recyclables (like the organic household waste pictured), you would be fined.

Second-hand with first-hand awareness.

It makes my day when I stumble upon verbal quirkiness. This store was called something else before, something I can’t quite remember. Will I forget it now? Despite the risk of being so closely tied to another brand, given the goods sold here, the name is superb and will have legs longer than the show or the ladies themselves.

Flustered but batting an eye.

I spy a word that starts with an “f….” Flirt & Flutter is a good evocative name. Initial “f’s” signal a sense of speed (fast, furious, frantic, flip, flash), goodness (fresh, fragrant, freedom, flavor, flush) and lightness (feather, flight, flicker, flury, float). Without any other cues as to the industry they’re in, the salon’s tagline leaves no doubt. The problem is they are trying to be more than what they are. What is it with this lifestyle thing? Just like everyone calling him-or herself an author, every company seems to be copycatting the lifestyle position. Most can’t even remotely deliver. At the very least, one tagline is enough.

Next up is the domain. Either the domain lags behind what may have been a name change from “Flirt & Flutter Lash Loft” to “Flirt & Flutter” or “,” “,” “” and “” (as examples) were already taken. The domain, however, makes the “…a Lifestyle” all the more unbelievable. Trying to be the Sprite in a cola proliferation is not working.


The first few times I experienced this store, I was impressed. That was a decade or thereabouts in Seattle. Time has been relatively good to this brand, but I am not their target audience (if I ever was). I used to enjoy the mix of seemingly old and new, different labels under one “house,” and the discovery that was always a part of their brand. Just seems that they’ve been on a slide to bland. The clothes look and feel much cheaper now, there’s too much of it out (the racks are clogged). The need to hit the refresh button. The merch is increasingly poorly sewn, knit designs are stamped instead of woven, the countries of origin of the independent labels are more and more those hawking cheap labor, the fabrics are flimsy and lack hand, the amount and sizes of goods put on sale reflect a disconnect with the knowledge of their audiences. The one constant is the catalogs — amazingly concepted and shot — and learning about the occasional label that is one-of-a-kind, sometimes from former Anthropologists. The ‘logs “transport” you, even though they keep their locations a secret, which is silly. Their online vintage offerings are remarkable particularly with respect pricing. The stores are still fun for a quick walk-through now and then, less now and more then.


I recently came across a wonderful shop chock full of mid-century (give or take) pride and craftsmanship. Esther is one sharp curator of well-cared-for items from all over. Stepping into Modern Star is like a tactile history lesson. It’s hard to find something still made in this country, which is why the past looks so good these days. It’s not hard to find Esther:  228 W. Hancock Ave., downtown Athens, GA (right next to The National). Open Tuesday through Sunday. Get there for yourself. Go there for gifts. The point being, it’s worth a visit. Nothing beats the heat like cool vintage.

Faux boxwood at Arby's

One of the best interpretations of boxwood I’ve ever seen. The plastic lent itself to the true, stiff nature of what you find outside. The pine straw was real (so is that snow through the window); the wood grain trash container not so, but authentic enough. An entertaining and fast wait for some chow.

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