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The Legendary Signs of Fairway Market: Talking with Jackie Donovan and Steve Jenkins

Fairway Douglaston StoreWhen I began working for Fairway this past fall, our Douglaston, Queens store was just about to open. I had opened restaurants before, staying up all night to polish silverware, print and reprint menus, turn crimson beets into crispy chips. But a Fairway–The World’s Greatest Food Store in all its sprawling glory-was a whole new scale. Huge and incredible! And I delved into a new (for me) endeavor, helping to deck out the store in informative, expressive signage.

We’re gearing up to open our tenth store and our third wine shop in Woodland Park, New Jersey in fifteen days. Hoozah! That means our graphics team is hard at work designing, printing, cutting, laminating, and hanging signs. Their work will tell our customers what is what with our we-are-the-experts, we-are-obsessed-with-great-food,  we-don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously Fairway spin.

The job is a really, really big one. We have more than 600 cheeses alone. We have hundreds of unique specialty imports, each with their own story–and each story warrants a sign. We have a deli and appetizing counter to make any serious foodie stop dead in their tracks. And on, and on, and on. Each of these departments have big signs and little signs, quirky signs and straightforward signs, signs changing constantly as new products arrive.

Here’s Jackie Donovan, my boss and the lovely lady at the helm of the inimitable Fairway Graphics, on how cool our sign operation is:

And at any opening, you will find Steve Jenkins, roaming the store with a sign-filled shopping cart, hanging up signs with a vengeance. “A sign does my job when I’m not in the store,” Steve says. If you can’t hear Steve wax poetic about anchovies and saba, a Steve sign is the next best thing: you can read his words and have a little peek into his mind, learn a little something, and share a bit of our passion.

And I’m looking forward to spending my next two weeks with velcro, rings, and big piles of signs, making sure Fairway’s products get all the love they deserve.

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