I Found the Coolest Vintage Building Sign Letters…for FREE!

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I love when the universe conspires to put something in my path that quickens my heart rate–like these vintage building sign letters I got for free today!

(Yes, I said free).

I had just left a horrible doctor’s appointment (have you ever had a tube inserted up your nose and down your esophagus?? Um….it’s not fun….).

Around the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC area, traffic is a nightmare, especially during the early afternoon/rush-hour.

I was on I-495 and bad traffic forced me to take a local road. May as well stop by my favorite organic store to pick up some of my favorite tea, since my alternate route would lead me right past there.

But what do my eyes see as I park my van??

Some folks removing these vintage building sign letters from an old Chinese food buffet restaurant that has been out of business for months!



Without hesitation, I excited walked over to the very-little-English speaking new restaurant owners, anxiously wanting to know what they were going to do with the old building sign letters.

ME: [gesturing towards the trash bin] “Are you going to throw them in the trash??”

THEM: “Huh? Oh….no.”

ME: [Excited smile, hands grasping my chest] “Oh! I want them! I want all! [insert arm waving] Can I have some? I will pay for them.”

THEM: [Giggles] “How many you want? Which ones you want?”

ME: [Eager] “Can I have 3??”

THEM: “Ok, 3.”


I was willing to pay for them because I know how much letters like this cost! You’ve been to those vintage stores that sell vintage building sign letters like this for at least $50 or more each.

At least.

But the fact that they were willing to give some to me–swoon……They were fabulous!

I stood there thinking quickly about what I could spell out with these awesome letters before they changed their minds.


I was hoping for a D…I…Y, but unfortunately, there weren’t any “D”s and there were no “S”s “Serena” either.

Nope…Not “T” “D” for Thrift Diving, either.

But….they had an “A” for Appiah, my last name!

That’ll work.



Here in the Appiah household, two of my sons and my husband’s name all begin with “K” so of course, I asked for that!

I eagerly waited as they removed the “K.”



I got excited for a moment when I saw the outline of an “S” but apparently, that “S” was from an older sign from a previous business many years ago.


Beggers can’t be choosers, though, and I was soooo thankful they were allowing me to take home the letters that I got!

The only thing one of the owner wanted was to remove the stickers on the sides which had some numbers on them.

I’m assuming these were similar to SKU numbers or something.

After she removed them, she handed them over to me.



I stacked those babies in the back of my van very carefully so I didn’t crack the plastic, thankful for the detour I took today. (You’ll notice that the covers are red plastic and the backings are metal).

Oh–and the coolest thing they allowed me to take was this ampersand!

There were small lights in them, but it looks like the writing was cut in order to remove them.

I’ll likely create my own lights inside.

Shouldn’t be a problem.



Gleefully, I drove away excited at their generosity. They totally didn’t have to allow some random stranger like me to walk up and ask for old vintage letters from the building that is soon to become their new Korean BBQ restaurant! But they did, and I was so happy about it!

And just to give you some perspective of how tall these vintage building sign letters are, I asked my middle son to stand next to them. 🙂

They nearly come up to his shoulder!!

The big question now is, “What are you going to do with them, Serena?”

I’m thinking of putting them in hubby’s office. Since he’s technically “K” and A”….I mean, it makes sense.

But I may keep the ampersand to myself and find a place to hang it and light it up in my garage.

….Perhaps when I remove my DIY wall-mounted Christmas tree after the holidays! 🙂



OMG, wasn’t that the best (FREE!!!!) discovery today??

Finds that good rarely happen on a random Monday outside of a Korean restaurant. HA!

Sometimes the universe conspires to deliver you a bit of good luck on a day when you can really use it. 🙂

Have you ever had a great discovery where you got something for free that made your heart race a little faster?

Let me know in the comments section! 🙂

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  1. Hubs came across letters just like these but had to buy them. He got an ‘S’ and ‘A’ for my first and last name. I put the A at the corner of our winding staircase and the ‘S’ in my craft studio. I just LOVE them! It’s so cool that you scored an ampersand; I would have loved that too 🙂

  2. Antoinette says:

    What a score. The letters look good even when the inside lights and metal backs are exposed.
    Hope you had good test results.

    1. Thanks, Antoinette! I am still trying to figure out where to put those letters. They’re so big!! LOL

  3. Tereza Addington says:

    I have had that awful test. Yucky!!!
    Well we helped a single mother put her items in storage and for keeping her items for her she gave us vintage furniture. I took the dresser transformed it and sold it. I love getting free stuff. My husband will find stuff on the side of the road. He calls it FOSR= find on side road. He found a expensive drill which worked and has a light when you drill an item. He found a metal letter A. We put it by the front door as it stands for our last name.

  4. Oh so sorry you are not feeling well. Glad you had a great vacation and I remember that restaurant. I’ll have to come to that area and check the new one out. Great find indeed and a great way to turn the day around.

  5. So I can tell you a little more about your letters: I can’t say that they are “vintage” since they were using LED’s to light them. But they are vintage in that they were used. And I’d say they are a steal since new letters like that when sold as a sign run into the thousands of dollars. The sticker they had to peel off is a “UL Label” which is there to show building inspectors that the sign (or letters in this case) were built to a safe standard since they do have electricity. By removing the stickers they are no longer taking responsibility for what happens. Unfortunately they won’t light up again with out renovating them since they need a specific type of power supply to work. Be careful the plastic in the front (the red) can be broken easily enough. (Sorry I literally do signs for my day job!) I’m trolling work for cool letters of my own. (hopefully a K, B or R for my family!)

  6. So sorry you’ve been having health issues and that you had to endure that awful test. But, something in the universe decided you needed to have something to turn your day around and WHAT a wonderful thing it was. How much fun are 3 FREE giant letters?! What a hoot. Love it.

    The best find that I can think of is when, unfortunately for the employees, a local decorating/furniture store was closing its doors. We were able to buy 2 matching 17″ pillar candle holders [which hubby turned into lamps!!] and a 6′ tall potted wisteria tree [artificial, of course] for next to nothing!

    Good luck with the results, Serena! And Merry Christmas to and your 4 boys.

    1. I must be completely stupid because I can’t see where/how to make a comment of my own; only see “reply” below other’s comments.

      Anyway………..SERENA!!!! I’m SO JELLY !!! I have wanted letters like that for the longest ! Good find and congrats M’Lady !

  7. Way to turn a crummy day upside down, Serena. Those letters are amazing. I can’t wait to see how you use them. You’re always creative and resourceful.

    On a personal level, I hope the results of your tests are good. I’ve had a colonoscopy but not and endoscopy. They’re great diagnostic tools, but not a lot of fun.

    K & A


    1. Oh my, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable a colonoscopy is! It sounds horrible! We shall see what the results are of my testing. I had manometry where they were measuring the pressure inside my esophagus. I have trouble swallowing and it has gotten worse over the past few years. I’m waiting for the dr. to read the test and tell me what the next step is–medication? Surgery? I can just imagine how expensive the out-of-pocket costs will be!! Anyhow, Happy Holidays, Alys!! Hope you are doing well!!!

      1. The worst part of a colonoscopy is the prep. You drink a nasty beverage (think really salty lemonade) and then your stomach swells like a balloon. You spend the next 12 hours feeling like you gave yourself stomach flu. Good times. 😉 I’m sorry to hear about your challenges and hope they get you clear results that put you on your way to good health. As for out of pocket costs, I’ve learned a couple of things about negotiation with hospitals and medical offices, so if it comes to that, please ping me for some tips.

        Love to you and your family, Serena. We’re recovering from a nasty flu and hope to be back in the normal range by Christmas. xo

  8. Eileen Swalling says:

    A friend who had owned a home decor fabric store at one time sent me a Facebook message saying she had some fabric samples she was looking to get rid of. “Some” turned out to be 4 huge tubs full which included some yardage on top of the samples. I took all of it for free–her next trip was to the dump if I didn’t want it. Had a great time sorting it and dreaming about all the fun handbags I could make along with some furniture DIY.

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