One of the iconic neon signs that beckoned people to north Grand Forks for decades has been saved by an admiring neighbor and returned to public display.

The elegant spurred boot that blinked above the Bronze Boot restaurant for 58 years, until the popular eatery closed in 2012, was bought at auction last October by brothers Wade and Scott Pearson. They share the titles of president and chief executive officer at Home of Economy, and they promised the boot would rise again inside their store, not far from the former restaurant.

The sign, about 14 feet tall and about 12 feet spur to toe, now hangs – where else? – on a wall in the Home of Economy’s boot section.

“I always really admired the Bronze Boot sign as a work of art and a Grand Forks icon,” Wade Pearson said. “They ran a really good restaurant over there for a long time. I wish it was still around.”

“It’s about preserving a piece of Grand Forks history, and preserving it in a place where it can be seen and enjoyed – rather than having it stuck away in someone’s barn or in a neon collector’s house in Illinois,” Scott Pearson said.

“We were neighbors for a lot of years, and we know there’s a lot of sentiment in town for that sign,” he said. “And there’s a lot of people who appreciate neon signs, so this is preservation of an era. It would have been a shame to let it be scrapped or left to rust or simply disappear.”

Much of the neon tubing was broken, and rust had encroached on the sign’s edges. The Pearson brothers had Scenic Sign fix the neon on one side, the side that will face out from the boot department wall. “It was a preservation, not a restoration,” Wade said.

“It’s a great sign,” he said. “It will jazz up the store, and we’ll encourage people to come in and take their picture with it.”

One fan eager to see the sign is Cheryl Davidson-Wathne of Roseau, Minn. Her father, the late Vernon Davidson, helped to make the Bronze Boot sign – and the equally iconic Home of Economy sign.

“He was a dignified and humble man who took great pride in his work,” she said. His approach to a sign was “to make it simple, sturdy and appealing, and to make it to last through our extreme weather changes.”

Since the auction, a great many people have asked Wade and Scott and their mother, chairman of the board Virginia Eelkema, when the sign will be on display at the Grand Forks Home of Economy store.

“I was at a church benefit dinner recently, and the guy sitting next to me asked about it,” Wade said. “Our people on the floor get asked about it all the time.

“It was always one of our family’s favorite places for birthdays and anniversaries and other special occasions,” he said. “I think the sign will spark a lot of good Grand Forks memories.”

Home of Economy began in 1939 when the Pearsons’ grandparents, Bob and Jean Kiesau, opened a small tire store in Thief River Falls, Minn. The company has grown to include stores in Devils Lake, Grafton, Williston, Jamestown and Minot, N.D., in addition to the headquarters store in Grand Forks.

For more information:

Wade or Scott Pearson

Home of Economy

(701) 772-6611

*News release courtesy of our ad agency.

The Boot is scheduled to be installed on Wednesday June, 25. We are encouraging everyone to stop in and see it.