Ed Bridge, the owner of Bridge Kaldro, a music shop in Christianburg, Virginia, received an interesting proposition from his employee. A sign war. He had never heard of it before, but the idea seemed fun. So Bridge put up a message daring a neighboring business: “Hey Super Shoes, want to start a sign war?” And they accepted the challenge.

But what eventually started as a fun little challenge quickly grew to a global phenomenon. Now, over 22,000 people from around the world are keeping tabs on the battle through a Facebook group, waiting for the next punch.

“I’m just so humbled because this is bigger than my little music store,” Bridge told WSLS 10 News.

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Sarah Vogl, a local who owns the Bear Dance Market & CBD Cafe with her partner Chris Reese, has been following this whole thing going down since the beginning because she’s friends with the owners and employees at Bridge Kaldro. “BKM has always had clever signs, so this is just a really explosive extension of their personalities, as well as the community-oriented personalities of our local business owners/managers,” Vogl told Bored Panda.

“I think this is an amazing representation of how much our Southwest Virginia / New River Valley area value small businesses and the community we collectively create together—owners as well as consumers.”

Vogl believes this demonstrates how deeply committed the residents are to loving and enjoying the place where they live. And she thinks most of the locals would agree!

“I don’t think there needs to be a ‘winner,'” Vogl added. “I don’t have a competitive personality so this is all just fun for me. But Chris says our signs are pretty fire.”

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Anthony Woodyard, the administrator of the Facebook group Christiansburg, VA Sign War, also lives in this town. “I thought it was going to be a fun community engagement opportunity. I never expected it to gain worldwide attention!,” Woodyard told Bored Panda. “It has been so much fun. I still can’t believe how quickly the page went viral.”

Anthony said the community has been featured in countless posts and comments from people all over the U.S. and other parts of the world who genuinely want to visit their town. “They’ve researched Christiansburg and found the many amazing things that we love about the place we call home.”

Much like Vogl, Woodyard firmly believes that every participant in the sign war is winning—they are showing that they care about this community to a worldwide audience through their participation, Anthony said.

“The last 14 months have been so isolating and depressing for many people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a counselor, I have seen firsthand how the pandemic has affected people’s mental health. It has been an absolute joy to know that my community has brought a smile to people around the globe. I hope that your readers will join in the fun by joining our Facebook group and that they, too, will fall in love with Christiansburg, Virginia!” Woodyard added.

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Another local, Chelsa Stassin, found out about the sign war from her friends joining the Facebook page Anthony created. “I absolutely love that it has brought smiles and happiness in a time where the new ‘normal’ isn’t like our old normal,” Stassin explained to Bored Panda. “I think it puts our community on the map! I love seeing people on the page say that they want to come to visit our town. I’m ready to see this town full of out-of-town people enjoying the places we get to see every day.”

Stassin, who owns the salon Cut It Out, would like to think she’s leading the competition but the humble stylist believes it’s a tie between Bridge Kaldro, Super Shoes, and Kabuki.

“I just want to thank Bridge Kaldro for starting such a fun and uplifting ‘game’ in this town,” Chelsa said. “It’s really brought out laughs from people who definitely needed it.”

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Whether we’re talking about Minnesota or the United Kingdom, Ed Bridge is proud that the small act is highlighting Christiansburg.

“If we can put this whole area a little bit more on the map for people coming to visit, why not?” he said.

But the sign war is not only producing laughs. It’s bringing in dollars too.

Other local stores, hair salons, restaurants, and realtors have also joined the sign war. Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse Owner Yoshi Koeda said his business has been booming since he entered the amusing competition.

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

“It’s an amazing free advertisement for all of us,” Koeda explained. “That’s probably the best part of everything.”

Koeda was actually the third player to join the war and added messages that incorporated song lyrics.

One of Koeda’s signs read: “DQ got the ice, ice baby. But we got flamin’ volcanoes and sake like it’s gettin’ hot in here.”

Even though the restaurant has been around for 23 years, Koeda said he’s never seen a sensation like this. “I don’t think any city across the US has seen something like this,” Koeda said.

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

One apparel website is also trying to use the popularity of the sign war to promote a local charity. Claytor Wear is now selling shirts and stickers to raise funds for Literacy Volunteers of the New River Valley.

“After seeing it explode, we needed to figure out how to give back locally,” Claytor Wear owner Jonathan Friend said.

Friend said after businesses faced a tough hit from the pandemic, this moment is a nice sign of locals joining forces.

“I think the signs are just really an homage we are really all in this together,” he said. “So, it’s been really uplifting to see all the businesses support each other.”

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: COOL106.3FM

Image credits: Christiansburg, VA Sign War

Image credits: Christiansburg, VA Sign War

Image credits: Christiansburg, VA Sign War

Image credits: Christiansburg, VA Sign War

Here’s what people have been saying about the sign war