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The signs were around before the pandemic, but maybe you didn’t notice.

The signs — the ones with the big, bubbly, sparkly letters spelling out “Happy 100th birthday” or “No mo chemo” — stood out more than usual during a time when people couldn’t throw parties or share slices of birthday cake.

It was a way to make special occasions special when many of the usual traditions were off the table

The two friends in Austin, Texas, who started Card My Yard in 2014 probably never could’ve predicted a pandemic or that a pandemic would boost their business.

But that’s what happened.

Card My Yard now has 425 franchise locations, including many new ones during the pandemic and three in the Colorado Springs area.

Brittany Staker opened a Colorado Springs location of Card My Yard in May 2020, as she was searching for a way to bring joy to the community.

“I was looking for an outlet,” she said. “I wanted to bring those smiles during hard times.”

Card My Yard has more than 400 franchises across the country, including three in the Colorado Springs area. 

Her nerves about launching a business during an uneasy economic time were quickly calmed, as sign after sign was ordered to celebrate graduations and many other occasions.

“People had to find different ways to celebrate,” Staker said. “And this was a way to do that.”

And people celebrate with signs. In many heartwarming ways. Like a mom who ordered a sign for her son to see when he got home from surgery. Like the daughter who got one for her 100-year-old mom to see from the window of her nursing home.

Like Bobbi Romero, who ordered a sign for her daughter’s 13th birthday and wants to find all kinds of reasons to order more signs, which often draw honks and shouts from passersby.

“It lets everyone know that we’re celebrating and what we’re celebrating,” she said. “It sends out feel-good vibes.”

A Colorado Springs coupe, and their Card My Yard sign, were featured on the “TODAY” show during a Valentine’s Day segment. 

When Romero found out she and her husband would be featured on the “Today” show for a massive vow renewal segment, she knew she needed a sign from Staker as a backdrop. On the show, you could see footage of Romero wearing her wedding dress from 10 years ago in front of a Card My Yard sign saying, “We still do.”

“It’s kind of like go big or go home,” Romero said. “It’s so extravagant and over the top that it’s perfect.”

That’s what sets these signs apart from any other gift or any other sign that you might order on Amazon, says Staker.

“They’re just a show stopper,” she said. “The signs are on that next level, which makes them stand out.”

Card My Yards stands out because each sign is carefully chosen and set up in the yards by a person. Staker stores 800 sign pieces at her Colorado Springs home and makes sure each final product is unique, depending on the client’s interests or favorite colors.

Much of the time, the sign is a surprise. That means Staker has to be stealthy. There’s a name for that: Staker calls herself a sign ninja, one who tries to coordinate putting up signs when no one’s home or when she won’t be spotted. After putting up a sign, she leaves a note saying, “Surprise, you’ve been carded.”

And, now, Staker is as busy as ever. She says the business’s boom during the pandemic helped to spread the word about Card My Yard.

“It’s definitely still going,” she said. “More people know about it now and see how it brings joy.”

It brings joy to the recipient as well as whoever sees it. Including Staker.

“When you’re standing in front of the sign, you just smile, whether it’s for you or someone you don’t know,” she said. “That feeling trumps any birthday card you could ever imagine, in my opinion.”

This content was originally published here.