Business

Card in the Yard sets up signs for special occasions

Cindy Frese owner of Card in the Yard stands with some of the large yard signs she places in customers’ yards to commemorate special occasions like birthdays, weddings and anniversaries in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cindy Frese owner of Card in the Yard stands with some of the large yard signs she places in customers’ yards to commemorate special occasions like birthdays, weddings and anniversaries in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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Cindy Frese is an early riser.

That’s a good thing as she’s often getting up before the crack of dawn to place super-sized celebratory cards in other people’s yards.

But that’s her job. Frese owns the area Card in the Yard franchise, which helps individuals surprise friends and loved ones on various occasions with yard sign rentals.

She’s placed displays for new babies, weddings, retirements, graduations, birthdays and more.

“I put up one display to celebrate a service member coming home from deployment and that was pretty special.”

Frese came across the idea for the business while visiting her sister on the East Coast.

“I saw a display there and I thought, what a great way to celebrate an occasion. I hadn’t seen anything like it in Iowa,” she recalled.

She started the business in 2013 when she was looking for a way to supplement her income and help put her sons through college. The business started out relatively small but has grown over the past few years.

Frese now has 15 large plywood boards to serve as the centerpiece of the yard display, each noting a different special occasion. Once that large sign is positioned, she surrounds it with other smaller signs and props that match the occasion.

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Frese, who also works as a special education teachers, said she doesn’t mind getting up before school to set up the displays.

“It is usually so peaceful and quiet out when I’m setting up,” she said.

But she admits, the work can be challenging.

“I’ve had neighbors think I was breaking in because I am out there so early in the morning before it’s light out,” she said. “I’ve had dogs chase me and run into other obstacles.”

She noted that the weather can be a challenge at times, too.

But Frese said that is the exception. Running Card in the Yard is very rewarding, she said.

The premise is quite simple: “Someone calls and orders a card set up that comes with a giant, six-foot large board personalized to the occasion,” she said. “There’s lots of variety.”

Frese handles all aspects of the business, from taking the initial call to figuring out which display set up they need. She usually drives by the location before installing to know what she’ll be working with.

Then she sets up the display and returns to take it down, typically a few days later.

There’s also plenty of time spent behind the scenes getting the signs ready. Each board, she said, takes about 20 hours of prep time as they are hand-painted by Frese.

Because the display is usually a surprise to the person whose yard the card is in, Frese said her work is especially fun.

“The feedback I get afterward is awesome,” she said, noting that she especially enjoys setting up retirement celebration signs. “I’ve never had anyone not be happy with it, so there’s such joy in doing this.

“People send me pictures and thank yous. I did one for a couple celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary, and they came out to greet me when I came to pick it up. They were just delighted.”

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At a glance

• Owner: Cindy Frese

• Company: Card in the Yard

• Address: Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 389-0029

• Website: www.cardintheyard.com

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