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Budget Tapes & Records gets OK for sign redo

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The iconic "Budget Man" sign that sits atop the Budget Tapes & Records store in Kanawha City got a new lease on life Thursday from the city's zoning board.

Members of the Zoning Board of Appeal approved a variance that will allow Reaford Signs to remove the giant painted sign and replace it with an aluminum-plated replica.

Priscilla Pope, co-owner of the store, needed the variance to fix the rotting wooden sign because city zoning laws say, once you remove a sign that doesn't meet current standards -- the 10- by 15-foot sign is too large -- you can't put it back.

However, Pope argued -- and city officials agreed -- that the colorful sign depicting a peace-loving hippie rising from a jar of incense is historic and worth preserving.

Several neighbors emailed letters of support to the city for the Budget sign, including this from Matt Hill: "Budget Man has represented a historical era for our country and Charleston since 1972. Keep him alive and let him get cleaned up a little Pleeasssee!"

Reaford Walker of Reaford Signs said he hopes to install the new sign within two weeks.

"It's made of alumalite, a 3/8-inch product -- aluminum plate on front and back with a corrugated plastic core," he said.

A photo image of the old sign will be printed on the face, and coated with sealer, he said. "It should last a long time."

Walker also will restore historic signs from the downtown Firestone store and the Fountain Hobby Center on West Washington Street. The zoning board granted similar variances to remove and repair the signs last month. Both involve broken neon lights, Walker said.

"We'll take the neon to Jim Day in St. Albans," Walker said. "He's the only one around anymore who works with neon. He's 81."

The red and white Firestone signs are made of porcelain, Walker said. "They have rust stains from the side and the steel. I'm hoping we can clean all that up."

Pope said she is pleased with the board's decision.

"They all agreed it was iconic and historic," she said. "It will look better than it did before."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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