Sign Gypsies Brings Joy Through Custom Yard Signs
Photographer / Linda Oldiges
Several years ago, Kristie Goehausen and Pauline Badalow spotted some cool yard greetings on a mutual friend’s Facebook page, and reached out to learn more. As it turned out, their friend owned a Sign Gypsies franchise that creates custom yard greetings. Both Goehausen and Badalow were interested in bringing the fun to the Zionsville area, so they decided to partner up.
“We were both drawn to the concept because there was nothing around here like it,” Goehausen says. “We liked the idea of bringing that service to the community to create happiness, laughter and fun.”
Badalow had always painted birthday greetings on her windows for her children. What made it special was the personalized aspect.
“I thought, ‘I could bring my window painting to other people through the signs,’” Badalow says. “Parents love to celebrate their kids.”
The company makes custom signs for birthdays, back-to-school moments, teacher appreciation, sporting events, graduations, weddings and anniversaries.
“We did an engagement that said, ‘She said yes!’” Badalow says. “We’ve done ‘No more chemo’ signs for people who have finished treatment. We’ll celebrate anything as long as it’s not offensive.”
Though yard size is a factor, they can adjust greetings to fit a space with various letters and foldable items. They even have silver glitter numbers that stand 4’.
“We love those because they’re huge and fun,” Badalow says. “We often use them for big birthdays like 16, 21 and 40.”
Badalow and Goehausen tailor each greeting with the recipient’s hobbies, interests and favorite color. For instance, if a person likes reading, shopping or a certain sport, they’ll incorporate the appropriate graphics.
The pair stays rather busy year-round, as there is always something to celebrate. In the fall there are back-to-school signs followed by Halloween, harvest activities and Thanksgiving. Though Indiana can get nippy, the ground rarely freezes solid.
“It’s actually more challenging to stick signs into the ground in the summer months when the temperatures are so hot,” says Goehausen, noting that if there has been a dry spell, they will ask clients to water their yards prior to the team’s arrival to soften up the ground. The business can also put up signs indoors for school events and parties.
Like postal carriers, Badalow and Goehausen are often out setting up signs in rain, sleet and snow.
“We’re out there every day in all the weather,” Badalow says.
Sign Gypsies needs at least one week’s notice to take a job. They haven’t always needed quite that much time, but when COVID-19 hit, demand for their services shot through the roof.
“Suddenly no one was able to celebrate anything, certainly not with laser tag and big parties, so instead they celebrated through signs and drive-by parades,” Badalow says.
In April the company did 130 signs. In May, it was 183. In contrast, they did 10 signs in January and 17 in February.
“We were fortunate to have a business where we were able to work at a social distance,” Goehausen says. “We don’t have to see or talk to anybody, making us the perfect social distancing company.”
The pair has been eager to display as many happy greetings as possible, during days when life felt confusing, scary and uncertain for some people.
“When the stay-at-home order came out, my sons told me, ‘You’re not essential,’ and I said, ‘We most certainly are – we’re making people smile! That’s essential,’” Badalow says.
The company serves Zionsville, Carmel, Westfield, Whitestown, Lebanon and Sheridan, as well as a few zip codes in northern Indianapolis. They used to cover Fishers and Noblesville, but with so much growth they sold those zip codes to others interested in starting their own franchises. Recently a customer from West Lafayette decided to open a location there. In the last few years, the number of Sign Gypsies franchises in Indiana has grown from six to 13.
Goehausen and Badalow love nothing more than making someone’s day with their giant yard greetings. For example, they recently received a text message from a man who was on the fence about ordering a sign for his wife, and at the last minute decided to go for it.
“He said we made her cry because it made her feel special,” Goehausen says.
Even those who don’t receive signs themselves can enjoy the benefit of a mood boost, since the greetings are displayed in yards for everyone to see.
“We’ll be out putting up a sign, and neighbors will walk by and thank us,” Badalow says. “That’s our main goal, to continue making people happy, whether it’s a kid hopping off the bus or a dad getting home from work.”
For more information on Sign Gypsies, call 317-825-8125 or visit signgypsies.com.