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Published October 09, 2013, 02:47 PM

Home of Economy buys Bronze Boot sign

Wade Pearson had both nostalgic and practical reasons for making the winning bid of $5,000 for the Bronze Boot sign Tuesday. The neon sign will be displayed inside the store in the — you guessed it — the boot department.

By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald

Wade Pearson had both nostalgic and practical reasons for making the winning bid of $5,000 for the Bronze Boot neon sign Tuesday.

Nostalgic? The Bronze Boot supper club and the Home of Economy, owned by the Pearson family, have been longtime neighbors along North Washington Street.

“We’ve been on the north end for 51 years and the Boot was here before we were,” Pearson said from the former restaurant’s parking lot after the bidding on the marquee item on the auction bill.

“I’ve always thought it was a cool sign, and I’ve had a lot of good memories at the Boot.”

Practical? The neon sign will be displayed inside the store in — you guessed it — the boot department.

“I’m guessing the boot will really stand out,” he said.

It should. It’s about 30 feet high. And, if desired, its neon lights are capable of blinking.

Pearson, president of the Grand Forks-based chain of six stores, said the business was willing to bid $10,000 — and maybe even higher — to obtain the sign on the restaurant, which existed for 58 years before its closing in May 2012.

Plus, Pearson family members are fans of neon. The Grand Forks store recently spent $20,000 on refurbishing its neon lighting rather than opting for the more popular LED as its sign light source.

Jerry Nelson, general manager of Indigo Signworks of Grand Forks, said neon “may be old school stuff, but it’s also an art form and dear to our hearts.”

Nelson said his business had three full-time time neon specialists 10 years ago, but now the neon market requires only one part-time worker. To build a similar sign to the Bronze Boot’s 30-footer would cost $30,000, plus another $10,000 for building a foundation to anchor the sign if it were located outdoors, Nelson said.

“That makes me feel better about what we paid,” Pearson said.

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