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Signs of the Times

Chatham Sign Shop owner Bob Lacy has used his adventurous spirit and talent for seeking out the unexpected to create an incredible legacy.

“It’s a great place to come to work,” enthuses Bob Lacy about being a business owner on Cape Cod. Owner and founder of Chatham Sign Shop, Lacy has deemed himself a “true washashore,” having made his first trip to the Cape by way of sailboat almost 40 years ago. He took up a mooring off the shores of Chatham and officially made Chatham Harbor his backyard, starting down a path that would lead him to a lifelong love of Cape Cod — a love he still celebrates today with his beautiful craftmanship. 

When Lacy wasn’t enjoying life as a liveaboard back in those first few years before he became a permanent resident of Chatham, he spent his summers surfing in Hawaii and his winters backcountry skiing; an adventurer at heart, he often found himself conferring with elks, outrunning avalanches, and dodging grizzly bears. “All with no cell phones!” he laughs. And of all the many places in the world Lacy has found himself exploring, his art has been there too; Lacy has run Chatham Sign Shop for over 31 years now, and his handmade signs have made it to every continent. 

Sign making wasn’t Lacy’s first venture in owning a business; his love for craftmanship started years before, in a Sears department store of all places. “They were giving a demonstration with a machine that functioned as a crosscut saw,” explains Lacy, “and I thought, ‘I’ve got to get one of those.’” So, newfangled mechanical saw in hand, Lacy left that Sears and rented a shop in Waltham that eventually grew into a successful furniture company. “We developed into a 10,000 square foot furniture factory with 24 employees, and it took off. There was no IKEA back then,” jokes Lacy. “After I sold the company, I retired…sort of.”

Lacy spent his “retirement” touring the glacial landscape of Alaska, skiing any mountain he could climb, and surfing any wave he saw during the warmer months — he did his best to satisfy that adventuring spirit of his. Eventually, Lacy moved the boat that would become his home for a few years from Maine to Chatham, where he saw an ad for Hyannis Sign Shop. He bought that shop, as well as two other shops in the area, and merged them into Chatham Sign Shop. Today, Lacy still works in the shop every day, and at 87, he has successfully outrun the perilous monotony of life as a retiree.  

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