2. Underground Signs
makes and sells New York, Boston and Chicago subway and transit station signs as art for those who want to own a part of the city in their home or office.
Customers for Underground Signs are commonly men -- those who feel a connection to a particular station or ball field such as for the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs or White Sox.
Founder Trevor MacDermid says he was having a conversation with a friend about how well "branded" certain cities' transit systems were when he formed the idea for the business. He thought there would be a market that would appreciate the replicas and the ability to customize them.
"I've had been ... a freelance consultant doing a lot of design work and content work for Web development companies and I was enjoying being a freelance guy, but the specific line of work that I was in in 2009, when the market turned bad my work was harder and hard to come by," MacDermid says.
"I really needed to find something new, and frankly the timing seemed somewhat appropriate. I felt a little bit burned out anyway. I needed to do something to keep myself busy, and so what began as just a project became a viable business," he says.
MacDermid sells mainly to consumers. He sells directly through his website and at a handful of transit museums, boutiques and the flash sale site
. He plans to expand his offerings to more cities and offer more sizes of signs at different price points (the price is $299 for a five-foot sign).
is really the key to it all, because people are identifying with a great city and their own relationship to it," he says.