At the corner of 6th Avenue and Pearl in Denver is the Wine Seller And Spirits Too. If you drive that stretch, you've probably seen the signs, the generally sports-themed messages on the marquee out front.
Last week, as the Colorado Avalanche and their star defender drove for their Stanley Cup victory it read:
BABY YOU CAN
YES YOU’RE GONNA
BE A STAR.
That’s the handiwork of Matt Spencer, the store’s manager and wine buyer.
Drive my car, he’s asked?
“Right. As in, baby, you can drive my car — baby, you can drive Makar,” referring to the Avs phenom. “And in fact he drives to the net and scores.”
Yes, yes he does.
Spencer has a few tips he's willing to share. “Anytime you can riff on the Beatles, something good's probably gonna happen.”
The last time something this good happened was a few years back, around Christmastime when the Broncos were charging for a Super Bowl.
“Von Miller and the gang,” Spencer remembered a 2015-era sign. “So it was, oh, and [star linebacker] DeMarcus Ware came to town. So On Ware, On Wolf, On Miller, We're Blitzing.”
A little football defense reference there.
“Yes. That was probably the 2015 defense we won the Super Bowl with, which is one of the greatest of all time, by the way,” said Spencer, who is a big sports fan, of course.
Spencer's boss is Lisa Von Feldt. Originally the shop was J&H Liquors, for Joe and Herb, her dad and uncle.
Back in the '70s, as the Broncos first tasted success, the marquee mastery began, she recalls.
It was right around the time the first Star Wars movie launched. An employee named Mike got busy.
DARTH THE RAIDERS
BE WITH US
So. Maybe not hilarious. Maybe not Mike’s best effort. But it was still early days.
“We actually got a Westword ‘Best of Westword’ award, for the Best Sign That Had Nothing To Do With The Business Inside,” Von Feldt said with a chuckle.
“So these are some really old photos, probably around the mid to late-70s,” Spencer said, reading the wording from some faded pictures he held in his hand. “Whip The Chiefs And Make Kansas City, Missouri Ble.”
What makes a great sign?
“Humor, short, easy to read and laughing all the way to Colorado Boulevard,” the next major street a couple miles east, Von Feldt said. How often do you reach that mile-high aspiration? “Every single time,” Von Feldt exclaimed.
Spencer estimated he’s been putting up signs roughly every week or so for his 20 years at the Wine Seller. He punches some numbers into his phone’s calculator.
“That'd be 884 signs, which is a rough estimation.” That’s beaucoup humor, as they say en France.
For this year's Stanley Cup-winning effort, Spencer aimed to pay homage to an old-time hockey call.
“Do you believe in miracles? Do You Believe In Beer And Goals?”
Von Feldt waved that one off. “It got vetoed,” Spencer said.
But when the historic moment came for Spencer to change out the sign, like an avalanche of quick humor, he swept the doubters away.
THERE ARE TWO
KINDS OF PEOPLE
AVS AND AV NOTS
Spencer looked up proudly at his latest masterpiece.
Customer Q Crutchfield, who’d stopped by the store, weighed in, with a big smile.
Could it be, the sign is not unlike Colorado’s championship-winning club?
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