Dan Kamba and Chuck Wilmarth are debating how to spell Oscar Mayer wiener.

The “i” should be before the “e,” says Kamba, co-owner of Southwest Signs in the Clearing neighborhood, but Wilmarth, the other co-owner and Kamba’s brother-in-law, wants to be sure. Brush in hand and bent over a 4-by-8-foot sign advertising the hot dogs, he has to be.

There are no erasers in the hand-painted sign business. Each mistake is lost money and, sometimes more importantly, lost time.

As the grocery stores and food stands that once relied heavily on the signs for their daily deals have turned to printed signs, businesses that specialized in the craft have shuttered or been forced to diversify.


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