Retail location: Signage left behind after business moves

We’ve all seen dead retail stores where the proprietor went out of business leaving their signage in place. Typically the landlord just leaves it up and puts up some “For Lease” signs as well.

It makes sense that the dead business has no money to remove the old signage and the landlord has no reason to bother. The new tenant will (eventually) take down the old signage to make way for his new signage. I personally think it looks scruffy to leave dead signage around and would prefer the zoning authorities to require it to be promptly removed. But I understand this is all just part of Nature’s Way in blood-red Capitalism. It’s the commercial equivalent of the rotting zebra carcass on the veldt.

With that background I want to talk about something similar: a business that moves to a nearby location but leaves their signage up at their former location.

Near us is a local one-off pizza joint. They had a prominent corner location but it was real small, more suitable for a take-out only business. Which they definitely were not. They quickly outgrew it and moved about 3 blocks into a larger strip center, but sort of around the side. The new location is invisible from all the streets and from much of the center’s parking lot. You almost have to already know it’s there to find it.

When they moved out they left all their signage and painted windows and such up on the old location. Which now also has a prominent “For Lease” sign covering some of the window painting. There is no small sign or paper taped to the door with the new address. No “We’ve Moved” signage either. Just their ordinary signage on an empty and increasingly dusty space.
My opinion is leaving that signage up was a major mistake. It tells everybody who drives by that they’re gone. And probably out of business. Some of my neighbors say leaving the signage up was a good thing; it keeps the name out in public and everybody just uses Yelp or the like to find everything now.

What do the real estate pros and retail experts say?

A) Does dead signage on dead locations help the landlord re-lease the site? Or is it harmful or neutral?
B) Does dead signage on dead locations help businesses who’ve moved and are still operating? How?

I have seem many "Moved to 1234xxx " signs when this happens around here.
Also, see some added on Craig’s list, local people post it on FB and often the business has their own FB page.

Personal anti-dote, many small ones that move to a hard place to see or get to seem to go under quicker than usual.

In Tulsa, Hanks Hamburgers, Bill Hamburgers, etc., same little locations & if ever moved or got bigger buildings, would be dead in a week.

To make a go of it, stay small or go big, middle sized is the worst of both worlds.


An aside, but Michael Chabon referred to the marks left when a backlit or neon building sign is removed as “the Braille of failure.”

From the landlord’s point of view, a building with signs on it indicating that it has recently been the venue for a functioning business is preferable to a building that looks as if it has been derelict for an indeterminate period. Unless the landlord is going to remove the signs* and spend money freshening up the facade to make it look all shiny and new* he’s better off leaving the signs up.

From the business owner’s point of view, it depends on the circumstances. In the instance in the OP the new premises doesn’t offer much opportunity for advertising the business through signs, so the owner may have reckoned that some visilibility through signs on the former premises was better than no visibility.

If the business is a franchise, though, the franchisor will probably be around at 7.00 a.m, on the day after the move/closure to take away the signs. Franchisor’s don’t like their brand being displayed on vacant premises.

Signage? Do you mean “signs”?

Wow. That was an awful lot of trouble to go through to make a point. Was it worth it, Snowboarder Bo?

“Signage” is a term of art in the real estate business. I don’t know why, and it initially came off very corny to me, but once I got used to it I didn’t even remember how stupid it sounds to those unfamiliar with its …usage.


My office recently moved to a location that had been vacant for quite some time, consisting on a failed one-off restaurant and 3 office spaces. It is in a backwater kind of place, which is A-ok as we aren’t retail and foot traffic is immaterial for the business. The signs for the restaurant are still in place and help to identify our location to those who are curious. So, in that way, the old signs are helpful.

Speaking of signs on one-off local pizza joints, this place hasn’t served pizza for going on two decades. Somebody’s too cheap to change the sign.

I have a pet peeve - signage large enough to be seen from a highway - if I see a sign and go to the trouble of coming down to the building, I want to find a live business.

But, as to OP: This one is a head-scratcher. Why, if you still have the name up, do you NOT put up a “We’ve Moved!” sign with “You are here, we are now over here” poster, banner, or at least an ink-jet page?
It just looks like you died, not moved.

In general most businesses do as you suggest. “We’ve moved to <location>.” signs are commonplace on dead retail.

The specific facts here are the pizza guy had a hard time finding new space and a couple months elapsed after he closed the first location before he had a new address. When he first moved out he posted a small temporary sign saying he’d be back in business once he found a location.

By the time he’d found and leased a new place his lease had run on the old place. It seems the old landlord and he were no longer getting along, so him posting a “we’ve finally moved to <location>. Grand opening on <date>.” sign on the old premises was not going to be approved.

Let he who has never overused an annoying word, throw the first stone into the quarry.

Thank you. :slight_smile:


I had a small billboard type sign a mile down the road from my business. I paid the owner of the property $200 a year and the PA Highway Department around $90 a year (for a license to have the sign there).

Five or so years ago the owner of the property considered using the land for some other use and cancelled our agreement. Fine, no more $200 a year. Then, I got the bill from the highway people. I sent them a copy of the letter.

Five years later, the sign is still there. The owner of the property has other pressing concerns, I assume. The highway people asked me what was going on and I explained that I no longer lease the property and do not want to trespass to take my sign.


Communication and signs are VERY important for success.

With that said, a business which moves and does not put up a sign saying they moved and note their new location is not a very bright business!

Many businesses fail. Sadly I see a lot of dumb decisions made by businesses so far as signs/advertising go. The WORST are real estate businesses. They will stick their names up in big letters along with their pictures and in tiny print at the bottom mention “Real Estate”.

I’ve saw one real estate sign on which new people driving by would never know it was a real estate business. And that is the thing. New people in an area have no idea who Susie xyz, is! No idea she is a realtor!

The business should say first in big letters: REAL ESTATE (Not someone’s name).

My former firms old office retained our signboards for years after we went to swankier location. As in, we went to the new place, I continued working there for more than a year and left, and probably for a couple of years after that, I would have occasion to drive by and see our sign (and my name in small letters) still there.

The offices eventually became part of a new media centre.

Then there was the Radio Shack in the strip mall next door to me that closed down, and its signage remained in place for months until T-Mobile finally moved in.

LOL! Let’s go down to the quarry and test out the couches down there.