Political Signs Hurt Small Business In Maine
Growing up in New England, every year my family would take a trip to Maine to visit family and friends. Just outside of the state capital, Augusta, there have been a large apple orchards since colonial times. Owned today by the Meyerhans family, the Lakeside Orchard has been a popular stop along Route 17 since the 1970′s. I can remember several stops I have made at their gift shop over the years, detouring from the more traveled Route 202 in order to visit the orchard.
During this contentious political season, the Orchard has fallen victim to a bit of state law and over-eager political advocates. People placed numerous political signs along the roadway in front of the Orchard. These signs caused the customers distress; it looked as if the owners of the Orchard themselves were endorsing the positions promoted, namely, against marriage equality. So, to prevent this impression after customers complained, they removed the signs.
Unfortunately for the family, it turns out that they are not allowed to remove these signs. Being along the roadway, they fall under the public right-of-way. Political advertisement can only be removed with permission of the property owner, or by the political group which the signs were advocating.
When asked about the signs, Marilyn Meyerhans made the following statement:
“We’re intentionally apolitical. We want to be welcoming to everybody. Gay marriage is a hot button issue for people. We try to stay away from that in this business. The gay marriage signs are the ones that got phone calls. But we personally don’t want any signs there. The store doesn’t have an opinion.”
And the Meyerhans are not the only business owners falling victim to the ordinance. With a fine of $250 per sign removed, this is going to start costing these business owners directly.
Some customers were not aware that the Orchard did not endorse the positions in the signs, so have stopped visiting the Orchard, loyal customers for years. A bad impression can harm any business, and Lakeside Orchard is no exception.
It is important to check with a business first if signs along the roadway near their business reflect the business itself, and not just placed by some over-eager political junkie.
For those who wish to sample some of the Lakeside Orchard wares (I highly recommend the fresh Cider, even a decade on I still consider it some of the best I’ve ever had) you can visit their website, or visit them in person, and order some of their product for yourself here:
318 Readfield Rd.
Family run businesses — small businesses — are the backbone of this nation. To find them being harmed by over-eager activists on either side of the issues hurts us all.