Thinking big on a budget

In 1974, Hop Ewing (then Mayor of Florence) had a problem.


November 19, 2018

When you get to the town of Florence in Boone County, Kentucky, you’ll know.

Not because of some state-sponsored sign with the Boone County bird and a demure slogan, but a massive water tower smack along I-75 that reads simply: FLORENCE Y’ALL.

No ‘Welcome to Florence’ or ‘Florence is Great!’ — just a mysterious sentence fragment as emphatic as it is impartial.

And who do we have to thank for this slice of Americana?

One Hop Ewing, ex-Mayor of Florence.

See, back in 1974, Hop had a problem. Developers of the new Florence Mall had sponsored the construction of a water tower, with one stipulation: That the 1-million-gallon tank be plastered with the words “FLORENCE MALL” to alert oncoming motorists of the soon-to-be-built shopping center.

The marketing stunt was genius — and illegal. State officials informed Hop that they couldn’t advertise something that didn’t exist yet (apparently “generating buzz” hadn’t been invented).

It was on him to find a solution.

But, the little city of Florence wasn’t exactly flush with cash. So, Hop came up with an answer that made up in cost savings what it lacked it elegance: they would cover the two vertical lines of the “M” in “MALL,” add a stem to the remaining “V,” and slap on an apostrophe. FLORENCE, Y’ALL.

It was genius.

The fix cost a total of $500 and created a regional landmark, inspiring countless chotchkies, bumper stickers and even the local baseball team’s mascot, ‘Wally The Watertower.’

So sure, big budgets can boost production value, but they can’t buy vision. In fact, sometimes tight budgets or short deadlines are exactly the constraints you need to get really creative.

Call us old fashioned, but at The Hustle, we’re still believers that a pound of resourcefulness is worth an ounce of production.

Meet you in Florence, y’all.

— Lindsey Quinn, Managing Editor of The Hustle

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