For a few days this month, Hot Diggitee Dogz hot dog shop on Davidson’s West Side has sent a staff member out to the intersection of Sloan and Griffith streets to wave a sign advertising the take-out restaurant. But last Thursday, Aug. 11, that came to an end when a Davidson police officer informed the sign-holder that the practice is illegal in Davidson.
That rubs owner Bob Barton the wrong way. He says his business is suffering, and the signs were helping. “I actually had the best day I had since I’ve been open when he was out there with the sign,” said Mr. Barton, who lives at Davidson Landing.
Davidson has adopted strict design rules for signs in recent years to preserve its small-town atmosphere. Section 14 of the town Planning Ordinance prohibits all off-premises signs, as well as any sign that is moving or mobile. The town code also prohibits the use of public streets for advertising or sales of any kind, with one exception: Street carts are allowed on Main Street, with a permit, according to town planner Ben McCrary. Actually, Hot Diggitee Dogz is the first business to take advantage of that exception, operating a hot dog cart many weekdays and during Concerts on the Green and other events.
Mr. Barton says his business is struggling, tucked away on a Mock Circle, near Ada Jenkins Center, on Davidson’s West Side. The 53-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., is a refugee from NASCAR, where he worked 25 years before being laid off three years ago as the economic downturn that hit the industry.
Mr. Barton at one time worked on pit crews for Junior Johnson and the Roger Staubach/Troy Aikman team Hall of Fame Racing. He bought the hot dog business from former owner Tim Lingerfelt, and said it seemed like a great opportunity to end unemployment. But he’s finding a tough road with local regulations.
“I’m just a small business. I’m trying to make something happen in my life,” he said. “But it seems like it’s hard to make money as a small business in Davidson.”
He notes that other area towns allow sign-holders and sign-spinners, as they’re sometimes called. He’d like to see the town relax its rules to allow signs, perhaps during lunch and dinner hours only, and with a paid permit. “To gain the exposure, the most cost effective way would be to have a guy holding a sign,” he said.