Neon sign will grace its corner no more

Tucson Seat Cover moving, won't be allowed to put it up
2011-12-15T00:00:00Z 2014-08-20T09:42:41Z Neon sign will grace its corner no moreDale Quinn Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 15, 2011 12:00 am  • 

For nearly 50 years, employees of Tucson Seat Cover Co. have spruced up car interiors and reupholstered furniture on the southeast corner of East Speedway and North Craycroft Road.

All the while, the company's sign - which kindles memories of a golden age of neon - has stood out front. Soon, that's no longer going to be the case.

Tucson Seat Cover Co. is moving, and because of city ordinances its sign may no longer be much of a factor in drawing customers.

The company, along with other property owners on that corner, recently sold their buildings to the convenience-store chain Circle K Stores Inc.

As such, Tucson Seat Cover has until Jan. 10 to pack up and move to a new location just a few blocks west at 5244 E. Speedway, said Ray Tipton, the company's director.

Business for the reupholsterer has been good - even through the economic downturn - and the move is voluntary, Tipton said. But he's worried about the sign, which has become an eye-catching symbol for the company.

Tucson ordinances generally require signs to be less than 10 feet tall and less than 50 square feet, said City Planning Administrator Glenn Moyer.

Under those rules, Tucson Seat Cover Co.'s sign is too big and too tall, Moyer said.

It could qualify as a historic-landmark sign, Moyer said. But under rules recently passed by the City Council, to move such a sign to a new location it must go into an area with a concentration of historic signs.

The company's new site doesn't have the required number of signs nearby, Moyer said. The ordinance requires three historic signs within half a mile.

Tipton said he's still going to try to find a way to keep the sign.

"I'm probably going to climb up there and take it apart, and maybe put it up inside the new place," Tipton said.

DID YOU KNOW?

Tucson Seat Cover Co. was started 47 years ago by Frank Grossman, who is now deceased, and his wife, Norma Grossman.

THE BUSINESS AT A GLANCE

Most of Tucson Seat Cover's business comes from car dealerships that send vehicles over for repairs covered by warranties.

But the company also restores interiors of vintage autos, especially when its dealership business slows.

In that line of work, building a referral base is essential. It was the company's reputation that recently attracted Kelly Bequette, the owner of a 1933 Chrysler Imperial, for example. Bequette hired the company to restore the interior of the vehicle he and his father had pulled out of a farm decades earlier.

Choosing someone to work on the car isn't a decision that's made lightly, Bequette said. After all, the 1933 Chrysler is "a member of the family," he said.

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at dquinn@azstarnet.com or 573-4197.

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