Last week, Steven Strauss, owner of Sign Central, Inc., was saddened to hear of a politically motivated act of vandalism against one of his business’s clients. Within 24 hours of Donald Trump being elected president, someone had gone out to Carroll Farm-to-Table along Route 144 and spray-painted “Trump 2016” in crude red script on the stand and its sign out front.
Only last spring, Strauss’ company had produced that same sign for Chris Merdon’s farm stand, which sits roadside along Route 144. Strauss said he learned of the act of vandalism when he was watching FOX45.
“I just thought it was horrible that vigilantes would damage signs and/or buildings for a small business,” Strauss said. “Me being a small business owner, I understand what type of setback that is financially.”
Soon after, an email landed in Merdon’s inbox. It was from Strauss. “He didn’t call us up or talk to us at all” beforehand, said Merdon. “He sent us an email and it simply said, ‘Your new sign is ready, come pick it up, no charge.’”
Immediately after the incident, Merdon, a former Howard County councilman, said the act was troubling. “We’re just very concerned that someone in our community would express their views this way,” he said on Nov. 9.
Since Donald Trump was elected as America’s next president, the country has seen a rash of politically motivated vandalism, some of it rooted in hate. In Maryland, officials have reported racist graffiti placed in the bathrooms of at least two schools. In the case of a Silver Spring church, a sign out front was scrawled over with “Whites Only. Trump Nation.”
Merdon said last week that the graffiti on his farm stand would be easy enough to paint over, but estimated the sign would cost between $2,000 and $3,000 to replace. Thanks to Strauss’s help, he’s been able to keep that money to use in other ways that support his farm, which produces and sells chicken, beef and pork.
Merdon said he’s also received a swell of support from others around the area. Someone left his business an anonymous donation to help with the repairs. McCormick Paints donated supplies for them to paint over the graffiti. A troop of Girl Scouts offered to come help with the labor.
Many who learned Carroll Farm-to-Table had just about all the help they needed ended up coming out anyway and buying meat. In the aftermath of the vandalism, Carroll Farm-to-Table wound up with record sales for a November weekend.
“We are very surprised,” Merdon said of the support. “It helped us restore faith in humanity that there are many more caring people out there than people who are destructive.”
Strauss said Merdon came and picked up the new sign on Wednesday. By the end of the day, the old defaced one had been replaced with a clean new one.
Merdon said the Curtis Bay business owner “was very humble” with his offering of help. “He wasn’t looking for any publicity. He just felt we should be supporting each other.”