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Local business owner Brenda Palmer and her son, Brandon, work on an order for a client at their shop, Oceanside Sign Shop, LLC, located on Civic Center Drive in Oceanside. After decades of business, the family has decided to shut its doors. Photo by Shana Thompson
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Oceanside Sign Shop selling after 29 years

OCEANSIDE — There’s something about working with your hands and being part of the community. The Palmer family, in Oceanside for nearly 40 years, knows exactly that feeling. That’s why after retiring from a 27-year career in the Marines, Bryan Palmer decided to open his own business.

“At the time he was getting out he had no future plans,” Brenda Palmer said of her late husband. “He had just started working at a sign shop in El Toro and he came home one day and said, ‘What do you think about opening a shop down in Oceanside?’”

The veterans met while stationed at Camp Pendleton, when Brenda was on the softball team and Bryan was an assistant coach.

Brenda Palmer and her late husband, Bryan, met while stationed in Camp Pendleton and opened a sign shop in Oceanside in 1990. Photo courtesy of Brenda Palmer

Together they opened the Oceanside Sign Center in 1990. It’s now known as The Oceanside Sign Shop, LLC and you can find it on Civic Center Drive. Back in the day they were hand painting signs and cutting logos near Marty’s Valley Inn. Now they specialize in vinyl graphics, automobile wraps, LED lighting and “anything you can think of” as Brenda says.

“When a client comes to us they need business cards, T-shirts, they need everything,” she said. “We know everyone. It makes no sense for our clients to go from spot-to-spot to get materials. We just send the order to companies we contract with and get it all done for them.”

Brenda’s grandson August Haston “interning” at the shop. August made an LED lighted design using the shop computers. Photo courtesy of Brenda Palmer.

The family has a reputation all over the state for their work, Brenda said, and a long list of clients amassed over the last 29 years in business. Before Bryan passed away in 2014, he earned a nickname that made his family smile.

“It used to be a big joke in California that no matter where my husband went someone would say, ‘Hey! Sign Shop Man!’” Brenda said, laughing.

The positive reputation might come in handy when the Palmers sell. That’s right. After decades in business, they’re ready for the next chapter.

“Our son (Brandon) basically grew up in the shop,” Brenda said. “We’d pick up the kids from school and they would spend the afternoon with us. It’s been an amazing journey.”

As she speaks, it’s clear that family and community run deep in Brenda’s heart. It’s that sense of community that compelled she and her husband to employ people from all backgrounds.

“Throughout the years we’ve hired young marines who were looking to make extra money,” Brenda said. “We’ve hired people that were homeless or were previously on drugs. That’s the motto that we’ve always instilled in our children, to help others if you can.”

Oceanside will still be home base when Brenda finds the right buyer. But she does plan to add a few stamps to her passport and would like to visit her daughter and grandkids at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina.

Brandon Palmer measures out a design at his family’s sign shop on Tuesday, Oct. 2 in Oceanside. Photo by Shana Thompson

“It’s hard to have a business where you have to be open six to seven days a week and still be able to travel,” she said, adding that travel is the reason her son, and co-owner, Brandon agreed to sell.

The next owner will inherit a full-service shop with about $100,000 worth of new equipment and security. Last year the family installed surveillance cameras and all new machinery.

“When we sell, we’re gonna sell everything,” Brenda said. “A full sign shop and 29 years of clientele.”

In the meantime, they’re still operating and open to new clients. You can check out their work the next time you’re at Breakwater Brewing, where they just put up new LED lighting.

Perhaps it is the decision to sell, not close, that makes it easier for the Palmers to step away.

“This has been a lovely life, I have to say,” Brenda said, emotion in her voice. “I’ll miss the ability to make things with these great machines.”

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