Signing off — the North Vancouver man behind 35 years of quips is retiring

·3 min read
Bob Gibson, co-owner of Contact Printing in North Vancouver, B.C., has been making people laugh for 35 years with one-liners he puts up on his shop's sign.  (Janella Hamilton/CBC - image credit)
Bob Gibson, co-owner of Contact Printing in North Vancouver, B.C., has been making people laugh for 35 years with one-liners he puts up on his shop's sign. (Janella Hamilton/CBC - image credit)

In Metro Vancouver, if you've ever driven along Forbes Avenue in North Vancouver's Lower Lonsdale area, you've probably whizzed past Contract Printing at Second Street and had a good chuckle.

That's because for 35 years, shop co-owner Bob Gibson has used a two-sided, block-letter sign to brighten peoples' days with laughter.

Changing both sides about once a month, Gibson has made a career slapping up one liners.

"Police called to daycare. Three-year old resisting a rest."

"I used to think orthopedic shoes were overrated. I stand corrected."

"Sadly my photographic memory was never developed."

Janella Hamilton/CBC
Janella Hamilton/CBC

Now at 65, Gibson is retiring and has sold the printing business, which he began with his father, to a new owner.

His final sign at the shop?

"I'm not resigning. I'm retiring." And "I'm all out of ideas I'm signing off."

Gibson's post on Facebook announcing his retirement has received around 600 replies.

"As a North Shore girl, I will miss the witty and clever sign messages I have enjoyed over the years," wrote Willow Munro. "Enjoy your retirement and I hope you write all those comments in a book."

Another post by Mike McClure echoed what many others wrote, that passing the sign was often a bright spot in their day.

"That was a highlight on my morning commutes for the 12 years I lived in Lower Lonsdale, seeing a new quip," he wrote. " Always gave me a chuckle before and after a 14 hour day. I'd like to thank you for those times and wish you a very happy retirement!"

Gibson, who used the sign to express his creativity and humour, said he was moved by all the comments.

"It feels like I'm maybe brightening up someone's day and I think that's the point of it," he said. "The world is full of problems."

A video posted on Tik Tok showing a compilation of some of Gibson's best zingers has received thousands of likes.

Gibson said over the years he's come up with 700 different signs. To do this he kept a red folder full of ideas or sayings he saw elsewhere that he could use at his shop.

The difficult part was coming with the perfect one-liner considering the restraints of the sign. There are only five lines per side with a maximum of 13 letters on each line.

"There's plenty of funny stuff out there but to fit it on a sign...I printed off a little grid that I can actually write the sign in and know it's going to fit," he said.

Janella Hamilton/CBC
Janella Hamilton/CBC

Gibson said his messages were never political and he used his co-owner David Brown as his filter.

"We were never over the line, it's never been a political thing. It's just been for laughs," said Gibson.

The pair recently sold the business to a new owner, who told Gibson and Brown they plan to keep the fun going with the sign. Gibson is handing over his red folder to give them a start.

When asked what one of his favourites was over the years Gibson said: "There I was making big money. About a quarter inch too big."