Ghost signs disappear from former Cox Produce building but will reappear

WICHITA — Almost two decades after purchasing the former Cox Produce building in Old Town, Marcey and Gary Gregory are finally giving the building the facelift they feel it deserves.

“We really love that building, and we just felt like she needed a little TLC,” says Marcey Gregory, the mayor of Goddard.

The building is home to First Gear, among other businesses. The Gregorys sold the business earlier this year, and new owner Greg Reed had a new First Gear sign painted on the building. Marcey Gregory says she and her husband liked how the new sign looked and felt confident enough in the painter, Kerry Unrein Painting & Signs, to repaint the ghost signs still legible on the building.

Ghost signs are older, faded signs still visible on buildings or ones from the past that become newly exposed on buildings. The Gregorys have had the ghost signs, such as ones advertising fresh fruit and produce, painted over on their building. Now they’re going to have the same parts of the building freshly painted with new letters.

“It’s going to say the same thing,” Marcey Gregory says. “It’s improving the look of it.”

Though there are many city codes that protect historic properties such as this 1907 building, there are no codes that address ghost signs.

“Yes, they are historic, but it’s up to the property owner if they maintain them, how they maintain them or if they want to get rid of them,” says Kathy Morgan, a senior planner with the city.

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Gary Gregory selling First Gear in Old Town after 25 years

WICHITA — A quarter of a century after opening the running specialty store First Gear, Gary Gregory is selling the Old Town business.

“I have the absolute best job in the world. I really do,” he says of selling sport shoes and apparel. “I’m just ready to do something different.”

Greg Reed of GW Investments, a communications company, is buying the business, which is at 111 N. Mosley. He’ll be partners with Raquel Stucky, who currently works there.

“She’s really the one that has a lot of experience in the business,” Reed says.

He says he likes the business and the industry and says feels “like there’s a lot of opportunity there.”

“I’m sure we’ll make some changes,” Reed says. However, all of the things customers have come to love at First Gear, “we’re going to continue to do.”

Gregory opened First Gear on North Rock Road in 1988 and moved to Old Town seven years later.

He says it was a difficult decision to move, but business doubled within the first year.

“I wasn’t getting west-side shoppers on Rock Road,” he says.

When he moved, he kept most of his east-side business and gained the west side as well.

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You don’t say

“I just feel like I have to be the one to stand up and say, ‘Look at me. Retail does work in Old Town.’ ”

Gary Gregory, owner of the 15-year-old First Gear shoe store in Old Town, who disagrees with Picture Framing & More owner Brett Osburn on the success of retail business in that area