A Dallas neighborhood showed some good old-fashioned Texas hospitality to former President George W. Bush and his wife because of a student’s idea.
Sophomore economics major Patrick Bibb started a lucrative business by making signs to welcome the Bushes to his Dallas neighborhood.
Bibb said he was looking to make some extra money during winter break to help pay for his tuition. So, he said, he decided to design and sell yard signs to welcome the former president and his wife to their new home in the North Dallas neighborhood of Preston Hollow, which is where Bibb grew up.
Bibb sent out a letter to neighbors informing them of the signs and encouraging them to welcome the Bushes.
The letter also informed them of the charity their purchase would benefit. Bibb said he is donating $2 from every $20 sign purchase to the library of nearby Pershing Elementary School to honor Laura Bush.
Bibb’s parents helped with the start-up costs of making 100 signs but, Bibb said, he had no idea how quickly the first 100 would go. Bibb said he has sold more than 800 signs in all, including one to former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.
Media outlets from across the country took interest in Bibb’s signs. His story was featured in D Magazine, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, several local television stations and on BBC-Radio and FOXNews.com.
But not all reactions to the signs were positive, Bibb said. He said some who read the stories bashed the former president in online blog posts. Signs were also allegedly stolen from various places in Preston Hollow, he said.
Bibb said he isn’t sure if the signs were intentionally stolen. He said they could have been picked up because of city ordinances.
Whether the signs were stolen or not, Bibb said his intention for the signs was not political.
“The sign is not intended to be a political statement,” Bibb wrote in the initial letter to his neighbors. “It is simply a way of saying thank you to a man and his wife for numerous years of public service to our state and our country.”
Bibb said Bush was appreciative and called to express his gratitude.
Bibb said he doesn’t sway on either side of the Bush debate but, politics aside, the former president was sincere and extremely nice on the phone.
Allie Beth Allman, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, said she bought 25 signs from Bibb. Allman owns a real estate company in Dallas and sold the Bushes their new home. She said her joint interests in TCU and the Bushes led her to buy so many signs.
Allman said she gave the signs to anyone who wanted one and also placed some on a few of her rental properties. She said when the Bushes pulled in to the neighborhood they were in awe of the signs.
“It was just so neat when they pulled in,” Allman said. “They loved all those signs.”
Bibb said that because of his busy schedule he will pass part of the business to TCU alumnus Gregg Bartus.
Bartus is a Neeley School of Business graduate and owner of the Greenville Avenue location of SIGNARAMA in Dallas, where he printed the signs for Bibb.
Bartus said the biggest change in the business is that Bibb will no longer have to deliver the signs to customers.
“We’re going to provide a location for people to come by and pick up the signs versus him delivering them,” Bartus said.
Bartus said he will continue to make Bibb’s stated donation to the library, keeping Bibb involved.