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Bleeding Heart’s Neon Sign for Sale

By Patty Wetli | Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bleeding Heart's towering "bakery" sign is for sale. Credit: Flickr/clevercupcakes

If you’ve always wanted to own your own bakery, here’s your chance: Bleeding Heart’s “bakery” is for sale. No, not the shop, with its wildly popular punk rock pastries, but its vintage neon “bakery” sign.

For years the sign has served as an iconic pointer to BHB’s Roscoe Village location at 1955 W. Belmont, no doubt enticing more than a few passing motorists to stop in for a sugar fix, but owners Michelle and Vinny Garcia now have a different use in mind. Proceeds from the sale will help fund the organic rooftop garden and educational farm the couple aims to open in Spring 2012 at BHB’s new West Town location.

“We plan on growing herbs, corn, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, arugula, edible flowers, zucchini, squashes and anything else I think of,” said Michelle. “The sign, while cool and retro, actually is the very opposite of ‘green.’ We figure it would be best as a collector’s piece for someone. It was in the movie Ali and returned back to the building, which I find pretty cool.”

Interested buyers should email Bleeding Heart with an offer. Caveat emptor: The winning bidder is responsible for removing and transporting the sign to its new home.

A holdover from the days before Yelp!, Twitter and Facebook, when businesses used neon as a primary form of advertising, Bleeding Heart’s sign dates back to the previous occupant of the building on Belmont, Phillip’s “Butter Kist” Bakery, which opened in 1929.

The original Phillip's Butter Kist Bakery sign. Credit: Flickr/brendan

Neon’s heyday lasted from 1920-60, but in recent years it’s increasingly been replaced by LED lighting. Chicago still boasts a number of neon relics, which continue to hold a certain nostalgic appeal. But that nostalgia doesn’t come cheap: Though Garcia, who noted “I’m not a collector,” has little idea of her sign’s value, according to a report in Time Out Chicago, the neon sign for the original Margie’s Candies, 1960 N. Western, cost $3,500 in 1954. To replace that sign today, with inferior materials, would set you back $17,500.

That should pay for a whole lot of arugula.

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