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The Care and Maintenance of Yard Signs

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I got into this business back in late 2005, when I happened
upon the poll result that 51% of Americans wanted Bush
impeached(44% were against). "What! this can't be right.
No one says anything about impeachment, except a few
crazies on the Net. No politician says anything . . . "
But I checked, and the poll seemed to be accurate.

Now I live in a suburb of the Nation's Capital, and certainly
everyone I knew despised the Present Occupant. "Sure, he
shoud be impeached" was the universal reply when I asked.
I'm retired and I decided to take this idea out for a
spin. I was able to inherit the three local Impeachment
Meetup groups(MD, D.C. and NoVA), and we had our first
Impeachment Meetup in January 2006. Ten people showed up,
which turned out to be a high for many months.

We all had whined to various TV stations and to our
Congressman, written letters to the editor etc. So we
decided to publish our ideas ourselves(really just one
idea!). We would hand out fliers soliciting funds so that
we could publish ads in our local papers. Not full-page
ads; 4" by 4" that could be placed next to stories, with the
simple text "I M P E A C H H I M", surrounded by white
space; very eye-catching.

Soliciting funds . . . Well, we gotta have an entity to
which checks can be written. No one is going to write
checks to "Joe Blow" or to "Alan McConnell"(my name). But
it turned out to be easy to create a Limited Liability
Company(LLC), registered in Maryland, with a EIN from the
IRS; cost us $300 and a trip to Baltimore. So we have a
Washington Area Impeachment Fund, consisting of three
Co-Trustees -- I am one -- for the sole purpose of getting
and managing a bank account. We three Trustees are,
however, pledged to spend money _only_ as the Meetups
direct; and we've kept that pledge.

By this time it was well into February 2006, and we started
handing out fliers soliciting funds. People took these
fliers, promised to send something; but no money arrived.

But then someone -- the identity is lost in the mists of
time -- suggested that we could sell buttons. Bingo! this
was the idea that made us successful. We ordered fifty
buttons. They were one and a half inches in diameter -- not
too big -- and they had only the text "I M P E A C H H I M",
plus a small "union bug". They cost $278 in lots of
1000. We charged $5 per button at first and even got a few
buyers; but we quickly changed our policy to selling our
buttons for a dollar. Clearly, each sale makes us over
seventy cents.

And it turns out that, in the D.C. area at least, people
won't write checks to help get ads put into local papers,
but they will buy our buttons. We regularly made $20 an
hour, at subway stations, on streets with lots of pedestrian
traffic, at farmers' markets, etc. And of course we sold
like mad at the forums various groups held, at the demos,
large and small, that various groups organized, etc.

We brought in enough for about thirteen ads during the
late spring, summer, and early fall of 2006. But we didn't
get our second brainstorm until about October.

Yard signs. At first this was a very tentative experiment.
We bought fifty signs, again with the simple statement
"I M P E A C H H I M". And when they arrived, I put
one up in the yard of my small house in Silver Spring. I
went to bed wondering if I'd find a brick through my window
the next morning.

No brick. The sign still stood. No brick the next night, or
the following night. After a week I ran into a neighbor.
"Hey, Alan, that's a GREAT SIGN you have there!" "Gosh,
thanks. Would you like one?" "You bet!" And then there
were two.

After three days there were five, all within about 500 yards
of my house, on a road with a fair amount of traffic.

And then I went out to Georgia Avenue, which is a major
thoroughfare leading from deep in the District north out
throught the Maryland suburbs and winding up eventually
in Gettysburg, PA. Many people on Georgia Avenue took
signs. I would get honks from cars driving by as I
trudged up the avenue in the chill of late November
with the signs under my arm.

And now they are, to some extent, all over. The Meetups
have voted that they are "Free to a good home". A diligent
colleague over in Arlington VA has installed dozens there.
He too gets stopped on the street by people who want one.

Very impressive is yard signs in bunches. A few yard
signs within half a mile on a road makes a stunning effect.
If the road is well trafficked this effect will be
experienced by thousands of cars a day. Beats newspaper
ads hollow.

For a picture of the signs and of our buttons, and for
further information, see our very simple web site:

www.waifllc.org .

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Alan McConnell is a retired mathematician, who urges you to take a look at our D.C. area activity. Visit: www.waifllc.org .
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