Local businesses in a Virginia town are having a 'sign war' and it's completely delightful

In a time when local businesses across the country are reeling from the pandemic and everyone could use an extra dose of joy, businesses in Christiansburg, Virginia are delighting the masses and getting some free marketing with a friendly sign war that has gone wildly viral.

It all started two weeks ago when Bridge Kaldro Music posted this message to Super Shoes, a neighboring business across the street: "Hey Super Shoes! Wanna start a sign war?"

After a few days, the shoe store took up the challenge: "Hey Bridge Kaldro! Our shoe strings are stronger than your guitar string."

It was on.

"Your shoestring never got anyone a date," wrote Bridge Kaldro.

"Keep your play dates," retorted Super Shoes. "We specialize in solemates."


Solemates. Clever.

Soon other businesses joined in, and the result is a friendly, socially-distanced flame game that's leaving people in stitches.

Radio station COOL 106.3FM shared a collection of the signs on Facebook in a post that's been shared nearly 400,000 times.

Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse hopped into the who's-better-for-a-date fray: "Shoes and strings help get the date, but we seal the deal."

To which Bridge Kaldro flung back: "What a 'croc.' IDK what stinks worse, your shoes or Kabuki's sign."

And that's when the puns began.

"You got to b-sharp to make good shoe-shi and we won't string you along," wrote Kabuki.

Then they got sassy.

"Y'all got Crocs, but we got Godzilla. We shreddin' this war like Kaldro shreds guitars."

And Super Shoes pushed back with a practical point.

"Mosh pits and raw fish: Both more dangerous than shoe shopping."

Then Bridge Kaldro called down the thunder on other businesses across the street.

"Anyone else? Come at me bro. Lookin' at you 2 across the road."

Soon a whole slew of businesses chimed in, including a pharmacy, church, gas station, and even a local library.






The Hampton Inn almost seemed to have the last word...

But it wasn't over.

More and more signs have popped up all over town. Someone even created a Christianburg, VA Sign War Facebook group so people could see how the battle is progressing. As of this morning, it has more than 21,000 members—and the signs just keep on coming.

Jill Lawson


Kayla Cumbee Walton


Steve Costa

Even the sign shops in town got in on it.

Signarama/Kevin Altizer

The sign war is a positive for so many reasons, from the simple delight it's bringing to the people observing it to the dollars it's bringing to the businesses participating.

Ed Bridge, the owner of Bridge Kaldro, told WSLS 10 News that he had never heard of a sign war until the idea was suggested by an employee.

"I'm just so humbled because this is bigger than my little music store," Bridge said. "If we can put this whole area a little bit more on the map for people coming to visit, why not?"

Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse owner Yoshi Koeda said business has been booming since he joined in the sign war.

"It's amazing free advertisement for all of us," he said. "That's probably the best part of everything."

Who knew that one employee's idea to challenge another business to a sign war would escalate into something so epic? Just goes to show you how a little fun can go a long way.

Thank you, Christiansburg, for giving the whole world something to enjoy together. We definitely needed it.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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