Enterprise Fall 2022

Page 1

ENTERPRISE

Reaching customers Reaching customers

ow signs,

ow signs, poster

SIGN MAKERS DISCUSS THEIR CRAFT, P. 4
THE BUSINESS MAGA ZINE OF THE UPPER VALLEY Fall 2022 FREE ARTS ORGANIZATIONS DISCUSS POSTERS, P. 18
H
posters and T-shirts remain relevant in a digital age of online ads H
s and T-shirts remain relevant in a digital age of online ads

4 KEEPING UP TR ADITION

Old- fashioned signs and banners still play an important role in business marketing.

CONTENT

KEEPING IT CLE AN

As in other industries, communications firms are working to lighten their carbon footprint.

10 KEEPING IT CL ASSY

Busines s communications have grown casual, but some standards are impor tant.

KEEPING IT

AR T SY

Posters for theater, dance and film have a reach beyond a single per formance.

18: PRESS RUN

Jamie Landry, right, programs a screen printing press for a run of T-shirts as Rick Sabalewski, left, works on a different order at Ink Factory in Claremont.

COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Craig Fairbank threads a needle while embroidering hats at Ink Factory in Claremont. The embroidery machine can make up to 800 stitches per minute.

2-, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
S
8
FALL 2022 d ENTERPRISE ●
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES M. PATTERSON PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES M. PATTERSON

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‘It is a captive audience’

The instant, cost effective and far reaching impact of internet advertising, including websites and social media platforms, have dramatically affected traditional advertising revenues —but not in all sectors.

The simple sign, used for centuries whether on a storefront or by the road, still remains an effective way of reaching customers, even as digital advertising and all its 21st century applications that produce colorful, eye-catching designs continue to grow.

Small roadside signs, jammed in the ground where drivers will see them, are as ubiquitous today as they were

before other methods of advertising became available. They usually appear along main roads advertising events, businesses, hiring opportunities and more. And now that New Hampshire and Vermont are in the midst of the biennial state office elections, candidate signs seem to be everywhere from streets to private front lawns.

“It is a captive audience,”Jeff Barrette, who with his wife Sarah owns The Ink Factory in Claremont, said.

“People have to travel from point to point. It is also very cost effective because you put a lot of signs out in a high traffic area and get a lot of impressions for not a lot of money.”

Ray St. Sauveur, owner of Unique Signs in Charlestown, said the sign

business will always be relevant, regardless of how occupations and businesses change. The only difference today is more people can get in the sign business because of computers and other technology. He has kept something he wrote years ago when his grandfather advised him “to be successful in life,”you needed a trade and there were plenty of good ones including farming, clothing, housing, medical and transportation.

“Far be it for me to prove my grandfather wrong but I found a trade that warranted a much needed pat on the back ‘cause without signs, none of these trades would fly,”St. Sauveur said in his handwritten note on the let-

4-, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
Upper Valley sign makers discuss how traditional art form still resonates in digital world VALLEY NEWS —JAMES M. PATTERSON Ray St. Sauveur stands in his office at Unique Signs in Charlestown last month. “I’m as busy as I want to be because I’m ready for retirement,”said St. Sauveur, who used to employ seven people at the shop.
SEE SIGN MAKERS S6
The smart thing to do is to have the sign tell your customers what it is you are doing for a business before they even walk into the store.”
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Upper Valley sign makers discuss business

terhead of a Massachusetts sign company.

At his shop just off Route 11, St. Sauveur displays a lot of his sign work over the years since he began in the 1970s and while production has changed, the concept of sign design has not.

Signs, as part of advertising, have a tax deductibility component, St. Sauveur said, so skimping on a sign is not necessary.

“Depending on how good the sign is, (it) will tell your customers how serious your intention is on being in business,”St. Sauveur said. “So if you have a sign that is out there for 25 to 30 years, and is still looking great, that says that person is serious about being in business.”

While signs remain an effective advertising tool, the production of signs and materials used have changed from when it was done by sign painters like St. Sauveur and Steve Giroux.

“There were a limited number of people who could do it,”Steve Giroux, owner of Third Generation Signs in Windsor, said. Giroux’s father and grandfather worked in Burlington where there were four or five sign painters in the business. “It was an art form. You had to know how to letter with a brush.”

Giroux, who began in the business with his father in the late 1970s, and other traditional sign painters, said the advent of vinyl cut graphics changed everything.

“This day and age with digital graphics and vinyl cut graphics, beginning in the ‘80s, the industry changed and a lot of the old sign painters just threw up their arms,” he said. “They could not compete.”

Time required for either process is telling. Giroux, who does not take new sign requests any longer but has turned to other areas of media, including video production, said putting vinyl, lettering on a vehicle, for example, can take 15 to 20 minutes but hand painting can take three hours.

Over at Barrette’s Ink Factory, Trevor Benson, owner of High Country Contractors, watched Barrette apply vinyl that he had moments earlier peeled away from a cut pattern.

“Looks good,”Benson told Barrette of the lettering on his truck. “I have to drive the truck around anyway so it is virtually free advertising once it’s paid for. It is a no brainer at the end of the day for anyone who owns a business.”

Barrette said with the production capabilities today, advertising spending does not need to be what it was

and is more efficient.

“You have a truck or trailer and I put a graphic on for $500 and this is a driving billboard for five to seven years,”Barrette said, adding that print media is more expensive with a shorter shelf life. “It was what you had to do, but think about how much more efficient the ad spending is today.”

St. Sauveur, Giroux and Dale Flewelling, owner of Art Attacks Signs and Designs in Newport, are throwbacks to the day when sign painters did the work.

“I like a good challenge and I have always loved hand lettering,”

said Flewelling, whose clever business name was the result of a heart attack he suffered 20 years ago in South Dakota on a trip with his wife to a wedding in Colorado. “Today, the whole industry has changed. Many don’t want hand-painted.”

Flewelling, a talented artist who plays guitar in a local band with his sons, does a lot of airbrush painting of images on motorcycles and other vehicles. He understands that a lot of sign businesses today were able to open because they just needed a computer (to design) and a cutter.

“The whole design starts up here,” Flewelling said, pointing to his head.

When a customer plans to open a business and is looking for sign ideas, Flewelling said there is a lot to consider.

“You have a vision for what they want to do then ask, is it readable from a distance, and is it pleasing to the eye. You are driving either 50 or 35 (on Main Roads) and a lot want a sign with the Gettysburg Address,” Flewelling said with some exaggeration. “Less is more.”

St. Sauveur said even when people are stopped in traffic, you don’t have much time to grab their attention, so a business sign on a facade instead of one that is perpendicular to a building will require the driver to “r ubberneck,”to see it.

“So you have to be short and to the point to tell the people what you do,”St. Sauveur said. “The smart thing to do is to have the sign tell your customers what it is you are doing for a business before they even walk into the store.”

Barrette recalled seeing a political sign before the Sept. 13 New Hampshire primary and could not decipher the name but only noticed the candidate’s face and the U.S. flag.

“I had no idea who he was or what he stood for,”Barrette said. “If it is not really clean, really concise and really bold, everything is lost.”

At Unique Signs, St. Sauveur said decades ago the Claremont’s Historic District Commission considered requiring all signs to be the same color. The facades downtown where there was a vibrant shopping district were individualistic, he said, and that is what made them stand out with shoppers.

“Not one is the same,”said St. Sauveur. “People will say to me ‘let me see what you’ve done for signs’ and I will say, don’t look at what I’ve done. Let me design a sign for you.”

St. Sauveur always goes to the business he is designing to understand what the customer is selling and also to get the proper perspective on the location.

“A sign person has to have perspective; without it you should not be in the sign business,”St. Sauveur said.

Industry statistics on signs do not break out the small sign maker from the large companies that produce billboards and digital signs. Market reports predict sustained growth in signs over the next decade, but with digital ones becoming more prevalent. Still, small sign makers will always be in demand because, as St. Sauveur learned years ago, without signs small businesses and organizations would “not fly.”

Patrick O’Gradycan bereached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

6-, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
SIGN MAKERS FROM S4
VALLEY NEWS —JAMES M. PATTERSON RaySt. Sauveur,ofUnique Signs,right,hangs abannerwith helpfrom friendGary Pellerin,left, ataClaremont cardealership lastmonth.
“Banners arejust banners,”said St.Sauveur, whohas beenbuilding, printing, welding, wiring and maintaining signs for 47 years. “Anybody can do banners.”

Closet Treasures Consignment Shop

Poshmark deal points to more acquisitions in resale market

Retail

The world’s biggest brands have had enough.

Afterwatching onlinemarketplaces rackup billionsin revenue from secondhand salesof their goods, brands rangingfrom LululemonAthleticatoJimmy Chooare aimingfortheirownpiece ofaresalemarketthatCoresightResearch projectsto hit$30billion inthe U.S.next year.

“We have seenjust really an explosionin resale,”said ErinSchmidt,senioranalyst atCoresight.“Every few weeks, we’re seeing another announcement of a brand or another retailer getting involved in this space.”

In the last month alone, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga, On Running, Athletaand VeraBradley havelaunched resale platformswhere consumerscan buy—and insome cases, sell—pre-owned apparel, shoesand handbags. Even non-profits are piling in.

That’s notgood news for so-calledpeer-to-peer mar-

ketplacesthattake acutoftransactions madeontheir platforms. Increasing competition has already led to sluggishgrowthand largelosseswhilecrushing thestocksof resale sites that have gone public.

Take Poshmark Inc., which had an initial public offeringinJanuary 2021andsawitsvaluation surgeabove$8 billion. On Monday, the company announced a deal to be acquired by South Korean internet giant Naver Corp. for $1.2 billion.

The proposed transaction may spark more deals. Valuations foronline retailers have declinedmeaningfully, accordingto AshleyHelgans,ananalyst forJefferies.Resale isalso stilla fast-growingcategory andattractive in thelong-term, shewrote ina researchnote. Sharesof other secondhand sites surged Tuesdayafter news of the Poshmark deal.

To getin onthe action,big brandsare partneringwith companies, includingThredUp Inc. andThe RealReal Inc., to run their resale units. One of the draws is that resellinggoodsisoften ahigh-marginbusiness.Italso helps lure new customers who might not be willing to pay full-price and givescompanies a way topitch sustainabil-

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COMMUNICATION’SCARBONFOOTPRINT

Everything a business does or produces —its goods and services —has a carbon footprint. And so do the words and images that describe those goods and services, including the business’marketing and communications.

Granted, the footprint of telling people about your medical services, baking products or manufacturing equipment is nowhere near as great as the footprint of providing those services or products. Nonetheless, in pursuit of cutting emissions that cause climate change, every bit counts.

With this in mind, employers around the Upper Valley are taking various measures to lessen the carbon emissions of their marketing and communications, from reducing paper to cutting employee commute and travel miles.

One longstanding area of concern is print communications. King Arthur Baking Company looks for opportunities to shift marketing efforts from print to digital when possible, Carey Underwood, the company ’s director of mission partnership and programs, said. However, print catalogs remain an essential part of mail orders, which are a major portion of the company ’s revenue. Whenever possible, the catalogs and direct mail materials are printed on paper with recycled content or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits, and whenever possible use paper

with recycled content.

“We have built relationships with partners over the last 10plus years that focus on efficiency and sustainability in their processes and produce a product we can feel good about,”she said.

At Hypertherm Associates, the biggest paper use has been the manuals for the tens of thousands of products they build and sell annually, Robin Tindall, the company’s environmental stewardship team leader, said. Now those manuals are as digital as possible, she said.

“Some of our products have no paper manuals at all, some have a manual that’s much more succinct and has QR codes and URLs within it, and

At Hypertherm Associates,

the

of

teams have completely rethought the translations”so that only the essential ones are included, Tindall said. “Our products last so long. One year, five years, 10 years from now, no one’s going to have that manual anyway. It gets printed but will someone look at it at the beginning? No. The product is brand new and it works perfectly fine. Will they lose the manual in a year? Yes. So why bother printing a paper manual?”

One more recent way Dartmouth Health’s communications team has cut down on paper is by installing electric signage throughout the many sites in the system.

“In the past we would communicate with a lot of paper,” Jennifer Gilkey, D-H’s vice pres-

ident for communications & marketing, said.

Someone entering one of the sites would typically see a big easel by the entrance with a poster that was changed out once a week, bearing announcements and events. Now they see a digital sign for which information can be updated instantly.

“We used to have people who would have to drive around and put posters up and take them down, so we’re also saving staff time and vehicle emissions,” she said.

Switching from print to digital where possible raises the question: what about the carbon footprint of a company’s digital presence? Every piece of infor-

biggest paper use has been the manuals

they build and sell annually.

those manuals are

digital as possible

8-, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
Area businesses turn to recycled paper, working from home and photograph storage to help environment
COLUMN
COURTESY PHOTOGRAPH Ed Kiley, a Hyperthermsales manager, speaks to a visitor to theHypertherm booth at FABTECH Canada in Toronto in June. Making trade show booths and materials as light and lean as possible is one of the ways Hypertherm has trimmed the carbon footprint of its marketing and communications.
SEE CARBON FOOTPRINT S9
the
for
tens
thousands of products
Now
as

Businesses look to trim carbon footprint

such as weekly team meetings.

mation that’s stored somewhere other than on individual devices takes up space on a server somewhere, and these servers have an impact.

Hypertherm has been taking a closer look at this area of impact, Tindall said.

“There’s some general guidance we’ve begun to talk about, within the past few months, such as, if you have 50,000 photographs, like we all do, and half of them are of the floor, that’s a waste of digital space and we should be thinking about that.”

The company is in the preliminary stages of creating best practices about minimizing email and other digital storage.

To encourage employees to take up practices like this, Hypertherm uses a “champion”model:

Employees all belong to a team, and within each team are “champions”who help the team fulfill company goals, such as “continuous improvement champions,” “safety champions,”and —for sustainability goals — “green champions.”The green champions throughout the company share information with

their teammates about how to make their team’s operations more sustainable, and they also report on their team’s progress to their fellow green leaders. (The company has been employee-owned since 2001.)

Upper Valley employers recognize that employee commuting is a substantial part of their carbon footprint, especially in a place like this, where the population is widely dispersed and public transit options are few. King Arthur incentivizes its employee-owners to reduce their singleoccupancy vehicle trips to and from the office, whether it be via carpooling, biking, walking or taking public transportation.

Employee-owners are rewarded with a cash incentive for every green commute, Underwood said.

Hypertherm includes employee commuting and travel in its calculations of the company’s carbon footprint, and also has measures to encourage few single-occupancy vehicle trips.

At Dartmouth Hitchcock, the communications team saves commute miles by being mainly remote.

“The pandemic put us on a faster track,”Gilkie said. “Years ago, nobody believed health care could have remote employees and in fact the pandemic showed us that communications and marketing and certain other functions could easily be remote. And employees report greater satisfaction, having the option to work remotely.”

They remain a hybrid office, with people coming in for specific reasons,

“It will be impressed in my mind for my entire life the day that we realized that we had to send everybody home from the office. We were so involved in all of the COVID communications, and there we were in the office, and it was suddenly like ‘We should not have people here, this is really risky’,”Gilkie recalled. “It was a Monday and I was literally sending a note to all my directors saying, ‘Guys, you need to send your team home now.’Little did I know we would never be coming back to the same way we had been. But now I think we have swung the pendulum back a little bit and figured out how (combining in-person and remote work) can be safe, can be productive, how is it good for our organization, and at the same time we’ve helped reduce the carbon footprint a bit because people aren’t driving as much.”

Rebecca Baileyis communicationsmanager forVitalCommunities,whichserves the69-town,bistate greater UpperValley by bringingtogether people,organizations, andcommunities tocreateequitable solutions to ourregion’s challenges.

Learn more at vitalcommunities.org.

9-, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
CARBON FOOTPRINT FROM S8
King Arthur incentivizes its employee-owners to reduce their single-occupancy vehicle trips to and from the office, whether it be via carpooling, biking, walking or taking public transportation. Employee-owners are rewarded with a cash incentive for every green commute. Taking Good Care of Tomorrow...Today 367 Route 120, Suite B-6 Lebanon, NH 03766 603-643-7577 Hosting monthly complimentary workshops, as well as a video library of our past programs. www.estateandelderlawgroup.com NE-400334

COLUMN

Ghosting is not just for Halloween and lousy dates anymore

Recently, I was planning an event with a speaker. I had reached out to a professional about being the speaker via email and the person agreed to speak on the topic. However, when I emailed them a couple weeks later to confirm details and ask some questions …nothing. I received no reply.

communication skills been so relaxed that we no longer show up?

Bev Widger, president of HR Xperienced and a longtime human resource professional in the Upper Valley, agrees that professional etiquette and communication has changed.

“I’ve had recent instances where I have been ghosted,”Widger said. “One day, I had three interviews set up, had emailed all three to confirm and two out of the three ghosted me.”

“However, in real estate, you really have to talk. You’re spending a lot of money and you have to communicate.”

Still, said Hermann, “we do ask people how they prefer to communicate and we try to meet them on their terms.”

Ghosting is just one example of a loosening of business etiquette. Language, dress and manners are all similarly more relaxed.

After a couple days, I tried again and still did not receive a reply. Then I emailed another person at the same company to see if they could reach my speaker and only then did the speaker email back saying that sorry, they had accepted another commitment and could not speak after all.

I had been ghosted.

The term “ghosting”according to the Urban Dictionary means “ceasing all communication with someone.”It has been used in reference to dating when one person just disappears leaving the other person wondering what has happened. However, ghosting has now become a phenomena in the business world as well, along with a relaxation of general business etiquette.

Ghosting is most noticeable in the area of job hunting. In a time with severe labor shortages, both employers and potential hires talk about being ghosted by the other. Many employers and human resource professionals have stories about setting up interviews with job candidates, only for the candidate to never show up, call or follow up. Certainly, it is a job-seeker market and many candidates have multiple opportunities. Yet, some job seekers say they had been ghosted by HR managers and recruiters as well.

Is this a new norm? Have our professional

Widger said that HR professionals have to adapt to how people communicate now, which is often by text.

“Many of the millennial and younger generations prefer texting to email,”Widger said. “I think you have to understand your audience and have more than one way of communicating. Some people are more comfortable with technology than others.”

Anthony Roberts is a payroll consultant with Complete Payroll Solutions and has been in sales for over 25 years.

“As a salesperson, being ghosted is part of the job,”Roberts said. However, Roberts, too sees an increase in people dropping out of communication.

“Ghosting is easier than having a tough but meaningful conversation,”Roberts said, adding that he attributes the phenomena to the widespread adoption of the smart phone. “We can’t put Pandora back into the box —technology has changed everything.

“I’ve noticed that people have changed how they communicate greatly since everyone started carrying smartphones. Years past, you would write an email like a former professional business letter,”Roberts added. “Then, when texting became more ubiquitous and everyone was using texting shorthand, that bled into how we did emails of one (or) two word replies and using slang instead of professional language.”

Roberts agrees with Widger that communication has to adapt to reach a wider audience.

“Many business owners don’t use a landline for the phone any longer,”Roberts said. “Many use their cellphones and just text. Others use Facebook as a website and respond to messaging. You have to be nimble and use all the mediums.”

Cheryl Hermann with REMAX Group One Realtors in Norwich has also seen the methods of communication change greatly.

“Many people prefer to text,”Hermann said.

“I just cringe to hear foul language used in public within a customer’s hearing,”Widger said. “A manager said to me once, ‘hire nice. I can train almost anything else.’When I interview someone, I always look for nice. If it’s an in-person interview, I always ask the receptionist if the candidate was polite when they arrived. Manners still count.”

Roberts sees social media as one reason that people are more prone to saying things that would not have been considered “office appropriate”at one time.

“When I first got into business, the rule was you didn’t talk about politics and religion or use swear words,”Roberts said. “But now with social media, you have business contacts connecting on Facebook and it’s blurring the lines between personal and business lives.”

In Hermann’s profession, she hasn’t seen so much of ghosting or relaxing of etiquette, but rather frustration due to a very tight real estate market and a change in how real estate professionals relate to one another.

“Before COVID, we would have open houses for the real estate brokers where we could meet and get to know one another,”she said. “Now, I don’t always know who the other broker is when meeting at showing. So I always spend some time with the broker and get to (know) them a bit.”

However, the move to texting as a primary communication has changed expectations as to response times.

“The expectation is that everything has to be responded to immediately,”Hermann said. “People sometimes move so fast, although because of the recent real estate market, if a listing went up and you didn’t have an appointment in five minutes, you could lose it.”

As for ghosting, Hermann is definite: “It’s just not professional.”

Hutchins isthe executivedirector ofthe West Lebanon-based Upper Valley Business Alliance.

10 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
Upper Valley business owners discuss how slights such as not showing up or returning calls is becoming more common
Is this a new norm?
Have our professional communication standards grown so lax that we often no longer bother to show up?

What goes into road signs in Vermont?

In 1969, Vermont became the first state in the nation to pass a sign law. Motorists traveling through the state —whether they live in Vermont or are visiting — will certainly notice that large, obtrusive signs announcing businesses, state attractions, or pretty much anything else are nowhere to be found along state roads like they are in many other states. Sign placement, wording and more are carefully controlled to meet the letter of the law.

Ian Degutis is a traffic engineer with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, which is responsible for signage on the rights-of-way on state roads. In an interview with Enterprise, Degutis explained some of the processes that go into deciding when, where and how signs are erected in Vermont. On its website, the agency emphasizes that the state Legislature has focused on keeping state roads free from unnecessary signs through state law and following federal regulations with respect to size, color and placement.

Question: How is sign placement decided on state roads by the Vermont Agency of Transportation?

Answer: Signs fall into two categories: Traffic control signs and business-related signs. Traffic control signage on public roadways in Vermont is, by state statute, installed in compliance with the Federal Highways Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. That is the manual that governs traffic control devices. It ensures consistency and uniformity in signage throughout the state and across the country so a stop sign is the same everywhere. Business signs, erected by the state, fall into another category, but are uniform with white lettering on a black background.

Q: Why doesn’t Vermont allow billboard signs along the interstates?

A : Signage in Vermont is strictly regulated by state statute. Vermont’s “sign law,”as it’s often called, was the first such law in the country. Offpremise signage is generally prohibited, as is business signage that is visible from limited access facilities, such as an interstate. Also, the law prohibits off-premise signs. If you have a business, you can install a sign on your business property, but other regulations that dictate that

Vermont’s“sign law,”as it’s often called, was the first such law in the country.

Signs are also replaced on a routine, corridor-wide basis and as part of those projects VTrans or our consultants review the roadways to ensure that warning signage is appropriate for the conditions that exist. Our goal is to ensure that hazards are appropriately and consistently signed throughout the state, without using them to excess where they will lose effectiveness due to oversaturation.

Q: Does the Agency of Transportation have input on local sign ordinances?

A: (The Agency of Transportation) does not have direct input on local sign ordinances; with the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, I believe local ordinances would need to still be in compliance with the state statutes.

Q: What restrictions are in place when it comes to allowing a sign along a road in terms of size and other elements?

A : Generally sign design, dimensions, and placement are controlled by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and its companion document, the Standard Highway Signs Manual.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of words or numbers allowed on a sign?

A : Not directly, but sizes of signs are standardized, as are font sizes to ensure that the signs are legible, so there are practical limitations on how much text can be fit on a sign.

Q: The state signs giving directions to a local business —such as an orchard or maple syrup operation —how is it decided to erect one of those?

would be local regulations

Q: How does one go about getting a state sign placed at a location that they have deemed as dangerous? Is it a long process?

A : When VTrans becomes aware

of a safety concern, we review the site and identify what improvements could be made. This could include signage in accordance with the (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices), or other improvements.

: When the sign law was created it was understood there was a need for people who didn’t know where things were to find them. State statute and the Travel Information Council sets up rules for OBDS (Official Business Destination Signs). These are part of a program administered by VTrans on behalf of the Travel Information Council. State statute and TIC rules govern when/ where these signs may be installed, and businesses that fit within the requirements may apply for a sign; there is an annual fee associated with these signs, that is paid by the business.

A

Generally the places are not easily visible or are down a side road; places you need a sign to find.

Patrick O’Grady canbereached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

11 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
Agency of Transportation official discusses state’s strict statutes for signage along interstates
Q&A
COURTESY
VERMONT AGENCY OF TRANSPORTATION
Above:
A sign forone of the Brattleboro, Vt., exits onInterstate 91 in the early 1960s. Below: Work on an exit sign along Interstate 89 in 2011.

Brands that wear well

T-shirt businesses thrive providing a popular promotional tool

ome fashion apparel never goes out of style.

SThe versatile, simple Tshirt has been around for decades and is as popular today as it ever was, especially since printing processes have become more advanced.

It seems there is no limit to T-shirt messaging: Advertise a business, outfit employees, celebrate a family reunion, honor a loved one at a charity walk, cherish memories from summer camp, express outrage, humor, sarcasm or just about any other emotion —and of course show everyone you completed that century bike ride, 5K or triathlon.

Regardless of what a T-shirt says, everyone is advertising something, and not always to make money. And the demand is recessionproof, said Jill Thompson, owner of Upper Valley Screen Printing and Embroidery in Lyme.

“It doesn’t really matter what the economy is like, a T-shirt is always affordable,”Thompson said. “It makes people happy, doesn’t cost a lot and usually brings back memories and connections.”

While it can become a keepsake for some, the T-shirt is most often used as a branding tool, said Jeff Barrette, who owns of The Ink Factory in Claremont with his wife, Sarah.

13 , T h u r s d a y,October13,2022 12 , T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
VALLEY
NEWS
—JAMES M. PATTERSON Etna Country Store owners Tyler and Kayla Dickinson look through articles of clothing in the Top Stitch Embroidery showroom in Lebanon have printed with their store logo as their baby Brooks waits nearby. Cody Pelletier, left, son of Top Stitch owner Tracy Pelletier, works in the showroom.
COVER STORY
SEE T-SHIR T S S14

T-shirt creators thrive

“It is awareness,”Bar rette said. “We are a branding business.”

When the Barrettes bought the assets of a printing business on Pleasant Street in 2009 and opened The Ink Factory, Sarah was the sole employee the first year and it was entirely printing and embroidering apparel. The first location was 1,800 square feet and today the business occupies 14,000 square feet of a former armory on School Street with 13 employees and has expanded to include signs and other business advertising.

“We do a lot for the construction industry, outfitting their employees,”Barrette said. “A lot of people use it for awareness. For contractors, it is identification and advertising. I think it works pretty well.”

The Ink Factory also prints Tshirts for the resort trade and for summer camps.

“That is why the industry has grown,”Barrette said. “The whole idea is when you participate, you have something to

show for it.”

The Lebanon Recreation, Arts and Parks Department organizes a number of road races each year and most come with a T-shirt, Paul Coats, the department’s director, said. But participation does not vary depending on getting a shirt.

“We do think it is a nice ges-

ture and it helps advertise the race when people wear the shirt,”Coats said.

Last month, Coats said he participated in the Reach the Beach run that ends in Hampton, N.H. and he saw one participant wearing a Shamrock Shuffle T-shirt. The 5K in Lebanon has been held for 23 years and

regularly draws 1,000 runners.

“I know a couple of people in town who have run in every Shamrock Shuffle race and have kept every T-shirt. They have a drawer full of them,”Coats said.

Event shirts usually include the name of the event, the year and distance and the race sponsors, which are often local businesses, on the back.

Cody Pelletier, store manager at Top Stitch Embroidery in Lebanon, said customers have different goals when they are looking for a T-shirt design. Top Stitch has a diverse customer base that includes schools, Dartmouth College, businesses and individuals.

“Some want to raise awareness or are fundraising for a special event,”said Pelletier, whose father started the business 34 years ago in his garage. “Businesses want to get their name out there and they do that every time a person wears it. Companies create their apparel knowing it is a form of advertising.”

A recent Wall Street Journal

14 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
T-SHIR T S FROM S12
SEE T-SHIR T S S16
VALLEY NEWS PHOTOGRAPHS —JAMES M. PATTERSON Amanda McKinney trims a loose thread while finishing an order of hats at Top Stitch Embroidery Lebanon last month. Amanda McKinney setsup a fresh spool ofthread in an embroidery machineat Top Stitch Embroidery in Lebanon last month.
“Businesses want to get their name out there and they do that every time a person wears it. Companies create their apparel knowing it is a form of advertising.”
CODY PELLETIER store manager at Top Stitch Embroidery in Lebanon

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T-shirts are great as souvenirs and a form of advertising

article demonstrated the clear benefits of company apparel. A U.K. fast food and bakery chain ventured into a line of clothing with their logo and some locations where it went on sale sold out almost immediately. The goal of the line of clothing and bags, the article said, was to broaden the company’s appeal and pick up some free advertising.

Thompson, owner and sole proprietor of her screen printing and embroidery business, said she does shirts for Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery in Hanover and they are popular, especially when visitors from out of town come to Dartmouth.

“They want that memento,”she said.

Thompson opened her business in 2016. An art major and stay-at-home mom at the time, Thompson took a screen printing class to improve her skills. The class was in the shop of the teacher and when Thompson saw them printing breast cancer awareness sweatshirts, she was hooked.

“It was an eye opener. I came home and

told my husband, ‘this is what I want to do’,” Thompson said. Her business is one of several in the Upper Valley that print custom Tshirt designs and there seems to be no shortage of work as event organizers, schools, businesses —retail, commercial and industrial and more —use the medium to achieve their awareness goals

And the future bodes well for those in the business. In a report from Grand View Research, a Calif.-based market research and consulting firm, the global custom T-shirt printing market in 2021 was nearly $4 billion and is expected to increase almost 10% a year through 2030. In the U.S., 2021 sales were $812.7 million with a more than 10% annual increase projected to 2030. The report notes how custom T-shirts are becoming an increasingly popular branding strategy by companies.

“This technique is used by companies, especially startups, to increase their brand visibility and grab the attention of their prospective customers. The growing use of cus-

tomized T-shirts as a branding tool is expected to be a major contributor to market growth over the forecast period,”the Grand View Research report states.

The gist of the research report explains that the custom T-shirt is inexpensive, “offthe-clock”advertising, and a way to develop brand loyalty.

“Additionally, providing T-shirts with good quality material increases their shelf life, thereby helping the companies to gain visibility for a longer period, which in turn is anticipated to boost the market growth during the forecast period.”

The simple T-shirt with a unique design and lettering can become a keepsake, bringing back memories of a moment with family and friends. And some people just can’t let go of them.

“I had one person who said, ‘I got this 30year-old shirt. Can you duplicate it?’” Thompson said. They don’t want to lose that shirt.”

Patrick O’Gradycan bereached atpogclmt@ gmail.com.

16 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
T-SHIR T S FROM S14
VALLEY NEWS —JAMES M. PATTERSON Rick Sabalewski, left, presents a test shirt to graphic designer Avery Osgood, right, to look over at Ink Factory in Claremont last month. Osgood started working at Ink Factory before graduating from Stevens High School in 2019, and has continued to do design and marketing there.

Retail companies want bigger piece of resale market

ity. In many cases, shoppers trade in used branded itemsand receive credit toward a future purchase from that company.

“Given there’s a race to the bottomin fashionrightnow—loads of stuff gets sold on discount —margins aresqueezed,”said Marilyn Martinez, projectmanager atthe Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s fashioninitiative. “Resaleis anamazing solution to up yourmargins if it’s integrated in your business model.”

Lowprices andtheeco-friendly appeal ofresale putit ina positionto grow16 timesfaster thanthe broader retail sector by 2026, according to calculations from Bloomberg Intelligence.

Trove Recommerce,founded by AndyRuben,a formerWalmartecommerce executive, runs the backend operationsfor customerssuch as Levi’s and Allbirds.

The company, along with competitors such Reflaunt, Recurate and Archive,is partof anincreasingly crowded market that’s alsolikelyto consolidate.

Ruben wants to eventually expand into categories such as home im-

BLOOMBERG —TIFFANY HAGLER-GEARD Resaleonline marketplaceshave struggledas publiccompanies. ThredUp’s shares have fallen about 80% this year.

provement, working with partners such as HomeDepot and Lowe’s. There are already companies pushing into electronics, bicycles and music gear.

“If you believe that we will all shop this way, you have to invest in this

now,”saidRuben, whocompared waiting toenter the resalemarket to missing out onthe e-commerce boom ofthe early2000s.Saks Off5th, the discountarm of SaksFifth Avenue, is making abig push. It has threeresale partnershipsthatallow

the company to offer pre-owned handbags and apparel from brands it typically doesn’t carry, said Paige Thomas, chief executive officer of the Saks division.

Despitethe bullishness,resale facesa bighurdle inthe fourthquarter.Retailersacross theboardare stuckwith excessinventoryafter misreadingdemand duringthepandemic.That islikelytolead tolotsof discounting, accordingto AnnaAndreeva, managingdirector atNeedham & Company.

More than two-thirdsof consumers say a majorreason they buy secondhand is to save money, according to survey data from Morning Consult.

Online resale also hasa long way togo tomatchnewitems onconvenience,according toMartinez ofthe Ellen MacArthur Foundation. At stores, youget anitem immediately, while majorfull-price e-commerce sites have easiernavigation and faster shipping times, she said.

“Resale isstill notthe norm,” Martinez said. “Not in the U.S., not in Europe, not anywherejust yet. To makeit thenorm, weneed moreof the biggerbrands to jump intoit as well.”

17 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
RESALE MARKET FROM S7

The endurance of printed posters

In a digital marketing age, area arts organizations still find value in old-fashioned bulletin boards

To say that social media has changed the nature of events promotion would be an understatement. People often turn to Facebook, Instagram and other forms of digital communication to learn about what’s happening in their communities.

But that doesn’t mean that other more traditional forms still don’t have an impact, according to three Upper Valley arts organizations. Posters, for example, still continue to endure.

“It’s interesting that in this age of social media and digital marketing we still do rely heavily on print posters,”Ryan Klink, director of sales & marketing at Northern Stage in White River Junction, said. “You’d be surprised how many people hear about the show because they saw it at the coffee shop or the dry cleaners or the Chinese takeout place.”

Northern Stage creates a poster for every show in its season and prints 100 to distribute in the community. It also creates posters for its educational programs and Klink estimated that 700 to 1,000 are distributed each year. The nonprofit organization also relies on direct mailers sent to prospective audience members. While Klink said it’s not always very cost effective because of shipping and printing costs, it pays off.

“There’s been talk in our industry that that’s a dying form and there’s been talk of that for 20 years and it’s still one of the most effective pieces,”Klink said. “We find a good potion of our audiences receive that postcard and it has a longer shelf life.”

That’s because physical promotional materials themselves tend to last longer than digital ones. Someone might pick up the postcard from their mailbox, then place it on a counter before putting it on a refrigerator. During that time, someone will interact with it more than they would if they’re scrolling through a social media feed and see Northern Stage’s post among many others.

Lucas Mendelsohn, communications and engagement coordinator at the Lebanon Opera House, said that looking through feeds can create a kind of brain freeze where people aren’t connecting with what they ’re seeing on their screens.

“You just kind of scroll by things,”he said. Posters can cause people to slow down. “You’re taking a moment to look around you instead of the constant scrolling that occurs.”

That’s the case for all age groups. Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts still hangs show posters around campus based, in-part, on feedback from students and focus groups, Teresa Duane, senior marketing manager at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center for the Arts, said.

“The students are very responsive to that,”Duane said.

That being said, posters have competition too. Sometimes community bulletin boards can get too crowded and become overwhelming to look at.

“You have to have an interesting design that will break through the clutter on a bulletin board,”Duane

18 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
COURTESY HOPKINS CENTER FOR THE ARTS AT DARTMOUTH Past posters for events at the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth in Hanover.
SEE POS TERS S19

Posters that Northern Stage has used to promote its shows over the years.

Posters for arts events have reach beyond one performance

POS TERS FROM S18

said. “There are a lot of other organizations in our community that are trying to get their message across on bulletin boards.”

The Hop, like other organizations, is strategic about where it places its posters. A poster for a classical music concert, for example, would find a better audience in the college’s music department.

But the clutter isn’t always a bad thing.

“When you go out and see a bulletin board and it’s covered in posts and events ... It really gives you as snapshot of what’s going on in our Upper Valley community,”Mendelsohn said. They can also prompt conversations about what’s taking place. “Word of mouth in the Upper Valley is still a very present tool for advertising.”

It’s important, however, to stand out. The Hop, Northern Stage and the Lebanon Opera House each have gone through a branding process, meaning all of their materials have a distinct look. While the images and text may change from poster to poster, there are some standards like the placement of logo or a design theme that tie them together.

Ashlee Robinson, marketing and communications designer at the Hop, has seen the arts organization go through different styles during her 15 years there. Each term, there are as many as 40 posters, or up to 120 posters each year. Those include designs for student ensembles and visiting artists. Each poster is printed 100 times: 40 are put up around campus and 60 go out in the community, Duane said.

When Robinson first began her role, designs were all over the place. The logo had to be included on each poster, but other than that, it was up to the designer.

“We kind of just used whatever fonts we wanted,”she said. “We didn’t have any consistency there.”

Then, the Hop worked with a design studio to come up with a specific look, which featured faded circles on each poster.

COURTESY HOPKINS CENTER FOR THE ARTS AT DARTMOUTH

For a few years, posters created for events at the Hopkins Center for theArts at Dartmouth in Hanover contained faded circles.

“It was a little more confining than what I was hoping for coming out of it,”Robinson said. “That stage, when we had these circles that we used throughout, was not ideal.”

After a time, the Hop abandoned the circles. The organization did carry over some lessons from the branding process such as having the time, date, place and logo in the same place, and using the same fonts, Robinson said. Posters also have less text on them than they used to.

“I typically will pull my colors from whatever image I am using,”Robinson said. Blue is the Hop’s go-to color when a main color doesn’t stand out. “I don’t want each poster to look the same. I want it to look like the individual artist while still remaining in the Hop branding.”

This year, Northern Stage is going with a color pallette of green, blue, yellow and a little bit of pink.

“I don’t think in the past the shows of a full season have been so directly linked as we have in introducing our new brand this year,”Klink said.

Seth Drury, who co-owns the Burlington-based design firm Methodikal, has been working on

posters for the Lebanon Opera House for around 13 years. Each year, the firm designs 13 to 15 posters and nonprofit prints around 30 copies for each show.

“Most of the posters we create for LOH follow a similar design that utilizes brand elements as the framework to allow the photography of the performer/act to be the star,”Drury wrote in an email.

Photographs play heavily in each of the organization’s materials. Some trends come and go. One that’s making a comeback is QR codes, a small square digital box similar to a barcode that people can scan with the camera on their smartphones to be taken to a specific webpage.

They became popular again during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with restaurants looking for contact-free menus. Both the Hop and Lebanon Opera House have started using them more in their marketing materials, including posters.

“Now that you can scan it with your camera it’s way more accessible and easier,”Robinson said. Instead of having to navigate to a website themselves, potential audience members can scan a QR code and be taken directly to a landing page to purchase tickets.

One of the reasons digital marketing can be useful is because it provides specific metrics — how many times an ad or a post gets viewed —to organizations. But individual views don’t necessarily translate into audience members.

It’s harder, of course, to gather metrics about posters.

Klink has been hearing for decades how digital will one day completely replace posters and how QR codes will take the place of playbills. But he and others interviewed for this article don’t see that happening anytime soon.

“I think that the artwork of a show is a very significant element to the show itself,”Klink said. “Posters have endured because they can become souvenirs.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@ vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

19 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
COURTESY NORTHERN STAGE

Information on the go

Public transportation is crucial to everyday life in both urban and rural communities. It offers a sustainable form of travel that provides access to jobs, schools, health care, shopping and other much-needed services. In this region of New England, buses are often used for daily public transit, and there are many moving parts that keep transit agencies running –both literally and figuratively.

One key element that ensures a smooth ride is communication.

Whether it’s internal memos about protocols, policies, and procedures or external messaging about changes to service or schedules, communication is key. And while all communication is essential, there is a very thoughtful and balanced approach when it comes to sharing information with the general public.

A look at the communications plan of five different transit agencies in Vermont revealed many similar challenges faced and best practices implemented, as well as very nuanced approaches based on the needs of the communities they serve. These transit agencies are:

■ Advance Transit (AT), serving the Upper Valley communities of Lebanon, Hanover, Enfield, and Canaan in New Hampshire, and Norwich and Hartford in Vermont.

■ Green Mountain Transit (GMT), serving Chittenden County, Franklin/Grand Isle counties, Stowe/ Lamoille Counties, Mad River Valley, and the capital district of Montpelier.

■ Southeast Vermont Transit (SEVT), the parent corporation that operates the Rockingham MOOver and the Wilmington MOOver, serving Windham and southern Windsor counties.

■ Special Services Transportation Agency (SSTA), providing coordinated transportation service to human service agencies in the Chittenden County area.

■ Tri-Valley Transit (TVT), serving Addison, Orange, and Northern Windsor counties.

Getting the word out —and quickly!

The most urgent messages for riders are those that immediately impact their travel plans, such as

service changes. These are usually shared via multiple platforms to ensure that they can reach people quickly. For temporary changes in service, digital outlets, such as email, websites, and social media, are ideal.

Transit, a mobile app that provides real-time information and is widely utilized by transit organizations, allows agencies to post alerts to their passengers right away.

For more long-term changes, printed material is necessary, such as signage on buses and bus shelters, schedules available at various community hubs, and handouts that drivers give directly to passengers as they board.

Other less immediate, but equally important messaging, includes raising awareness about services offered and encouraging use of public transportation through print, digital, and media outlets.

Mike Reiderer, community relations manager at Tri-Valley Transit, emphasized the importance of getting the word out about service, especially as new people move to the region. New residents (and even some not-so-new) are generally not aware of rural transit services, often noting “I never realized this was here!”

Informing and assuring through signs

Bus stop signs for fixed route systems (those that operate on a predetermined route according to a schedule) serve many functions. They offer rider security, assuring riders that they are indeed at the right place to catch a bus. They often have contact information, such as a website and phone number, so that waiting passengers can easily connect with rider support if needed.

MOOver ’s signs go the extra mile, displaying a map of the route and a schedule block.

Advance Transit is currently in the process of redesigning their bus stop signs, creating a more vibrant and visible sign to catch the attention of riders waiting to board and drivers on the road. In addition to contact information, these redesigned signs will also include a bus stop name, connecting services available at that stop, and a QR code that directs users to stop-specific information.

The most urgent messages for riders are those that immediately impact their travel plans, such as service changes. These are usually shared via multiple platforms

ensure

they can reach people quickly.

20 -, T h u r s d a y,October13,2022
Twin
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Transit providers discuss how communicate has changed

Adapting to change

The recent pandemic saw major adjustments to processes for many organizations. For transit agencies, timely communication was important to ensure that staff and riders were informed of constant changes to bus services and safety guidelines. Digital platforms saw an uptick of activity, while fewer printed collateral was produced.

Agencies like SSTA, whose services require one-on-one communication with their riders, managed an increased number of phone calls to their passengers, keeping them up to date on changes.

Messaging shifted from growing ridership to minimizing rider counts due to capacity limits.

Some agencies encouraged people to drive, if possible, in order to secure space for essential workers on the buses.

New methods were adopted, such as utilizing QR codes. Once a passing marketing trend, QR codes made a comeback, allowing businesses like shops and restaurants, to easily share quickly changing information with customers on their mobile devices.

There was also more communication among staff. Randy Schoonmaker, CEO of SEVT, shares that before the pandemic, MOOver distributed a weekly staff email. During the pandemic, the fre-

quency changed to daily. There was, however, an unexpected silver lining with this need for constant updates: It was imperative for transit agencies to frequently share information with the public, presenting an opportunity to raise awareness of their services.

Communicating to serve your community

It may come as no surprise that communication best practices of transit agencies are guided largely by the people they serve. That means understanding the needs of their riders and recognizing what communication methods work best for them. Because GMT’s large transportation network serves both urban and rural spaces, they adjust their messaging and methods based on their varying rider needs.

Jamie Smith, GMT director of marketing and planning, has also tried to cultivate internally a communications culture that uses accessible language, so that all forms of communication from GMT, from service alerts to onboard announcements, are easy for all riders to understand.

MOOver offers service to vacationers and second home owners, in addition to area residents.

They work with property managers to ensure that every condo unit and hotel room has the season’s schedule.

While SSTA has no need for bus stop signs and printed schedules, their high-touch relationships

with their clients have resulted in greater engagement and a strengthened connection.

Adam Lawrence, executive director of SSTA, emphasizes the importance of one-on-one experiences between agencies and their riders.

While a lot of information is conveyed to the public, listening is also a major part of the process.

TVT distributes an annual survey to their riders, which helps them assess their services. Every five years, Advance Transit works with the Upper Valley community to develop a plan for improving public transportation in the area. AT is currently in the process of updating this Transit Development Plan.

Adams Carroll, AT’s executive director, recognizes that “input from community members will be critical as we identify community preferences and learn how our services can better meet transportation needs.”

Surveys, both online and onboard the buses, provide critical information, as does meetings with business partners and listening sessions with community members. Sessions are scheduled for Nov. 2 in both Vermont and New Hampshire. Details can be found at advancetransit.com/plan.

Whether it’s producing signage and developing messaging or adapting to change and listening to riders, transit agencies understand that effective communication is a two-way street.

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INFORM
ATION FROM S20
COURTESY ADVANCE TRANSIT Passengers board an Advance Transit bus on a July morning at a stop outside the Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon.

NH business failures rose in S eptember

30% jump in bankruptcies from 2021 was first annual increase since pandemic began

New Hampshire bankruptcy filings jumped substantially in September compared to last year — the first year-over-year increase since the pandemic began in the spring of 2020.

The 62 bankruptcies recorded in September matches the number filed in August, but it was 30 percent higher than the 48 filed in September 2021. September’s 62 filings is one shy of the highest monthly total (there were 63 in March) so far this year.

One reason for the uptick could be that wages are not keeping up with inflation. The unemployment rate remained at a record low 2 percent in August, and wages rose 2.9 percent annually, and that down from a 4.2 percent increase in July. Meanwhile, the inflation rate was 7.4 percent in August, slightly above the 7.3 percent in July.

But, considered from a historical perspective, bankruptcy filings remain relatively low. The average number of filings so far this year is 54, 11.5 percent lower than last year, though the decline isn’t nearly as large as in 2021, when it was 31 percent lower than the year before, or 2020, when the average monthly filings was 41 percent lower than 2019.

There were no business-related filings in June or July. There was one in August and there were three in September, though two were personal filings with business debt. The one business that did file Chapter 11, to reorganize debt. It was Arete Rehabilitation Inc. of Salem, Sept. 28. It reported assets of $500,000 to $1 million and liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.

These articles arebeing shared by partnersin TheGranite State News Collaborative.For moreinformation visit collaborativenh.org.

Some remote workers are doubling up on jobs

Working multiple jobs is nothing new. With minimum wage lagging far be hind the cost of living in the United States, many workers make ends meet through a patchwork of full- and part-time jobs — some working freelance gigs that add up to more than 40 hours a week without the benefits of full-time employee status. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August nearly 7.5 million workers, or 4.7 percent of the overall workforce, were working more than one job. A 2021 report from the Pew Research Center found nearly 60 percent relied on gig work to meet basic needs. And now inflation is driving those numbers of supplemental-job seekers even higher.

But some workers have found a way to increase their income without increasing their overall hours through a practice they ’re calling overemployment. Instead of clocking out of one job and into another, overemployed workers perform multiple fulltime jobs simultaneously from home, their employers usually none the wiser.

I first heard about overemployment early in the coronavirus pandemic from a neighbor who knew of several software engineers holding two full-time jobs at once. More recently, Wired magazine reporter Fadeke Adegbuyi explored overemployment. Thousands of users on Reddit and TikTok, as well as the site overemployed.com, swap strategies, warnings and success stories about their overemployment experiences.

It’s not hard to see the appeal. Having multiple employers allows workers to diversify their labor the way smart investors diver-

sify stock holdings. If they lose one job through a layoff or reorganization, they have another paycheck to fall back on. They often can enroll in multiple healthcare plans, allowing them to coordinate benefits to keep medical costs down. And if done correctly, being overemployed doesn’t mean being overworked. By accepting junior-level positions and efficiently arranging their hours, workers can keep their personal and professional obligations in balance.

But there are challenges to overemployment. One of the biggest, to my mind, is the need for secrecy. While it’s not generally against any law to hold multiple jobs, employers generally have the right to fire anyone they catch doing it. As employers develop more sophisticated means of tracking remote workers’ activity (“tattleware”that monitors mouse movement and captures screenshots), workers are coming up with more elaborate ways of escaping detection (mouse jigglers, multiple devices, freezing employment and earnings data that can show up on background checks).

Proponents of overemployment argue that they ’re simply turning the tables on years of exploitation and under-compensation.

Overemployment can also become a self-defeating cycle if workers lose sight of their financial goals. Extra disposable income can lead to lifestyle creep, and overemployed workers may find their extra income going to pay for services, takeout, and other needs they no longer have time or energy to tend to themselves.

While overemployment, as Adegbuyi writes, feels like “the new cheat code to financial freedom”for those who can successfully pull it off, the income gap

between surviving and thriving is only widening for those without access to those kinds of jobs. That’s not the fault of overemployed workers, of course although I wonder how experienced workers squatting in junior-level jobs might be affecting opportunities for entry-level candidates.

Finally, the overemployment phenomenon, like other pandemic-enhanced work trends, stirs up questions about what employers and full-time employees owe each other. Are employers paying for exclusive rights to an employee’s time and attention, or are they paying to have tasks completed regardless of when and where the work happens?

If it’s the latter, what distinguishes an employee in that position from a contractor?

Opponents of remote work will probably seize on overemployment as evidence that unsupervised workers can’t be trusted. Some might argue that collecting 80 hours’worth of pay for work completed in 40 hours is greedy and unethical. But if an overemployed worker is completing all tasks on time to employers’satisfaction, what exactly is the problem?

As one Reddit user notes, it’s long been accepted for people to work for two or three low-paying jobs or gigs just to scrape by — “But as soon as we talk about getting two real paychecks, having secondary insurance, having twice the opportunity to save for retirement —it becomes a big ethical issue!”

Put that way, it seems the main objection to overemployment is not that people are working multiple jobs to earn more, but that they’re doing so without working themselves to death in the process.

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