WASILLA — Yard cards have been popping up around the Valley for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions for the last three years thanks to Kristin O’Connor’s sign rental company, Far North Yard Cards.

O’Connor recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss her small business.

Q: What is Far North Yard Cards all about?

“When someone has a special occasion coming up, whether it’s a birthday, a retirement, or a birth announcement, they can contact me. I have an inventory of different colors of letters and different graphics, and I can do any customized message in people’s yard. My slogan is, ‘turn their yard into a card.’ So, it’s just a different way to celebrate a special occasion… I can do it year round because I have stands to put the signs in… A full happy birthday set is like, 20 feet long and it’s about three feet tall.”

Q: How does the process work?

“What I do is kinda sneaky and I go in the evening to put up the yard card so the person doesn’t know that I’m there, and then the next morning when they wake up, that’s usually when they see it. It’s a little harder in the summertime to be sneaky because it’s light all the time,” she said with a laugh. “The signs are rentals. So, it’s a 24-hour thing. I go and set up in someone’s yard the night before and they get to enjoy it all day and then I go in the evening to pick it up… It’s catching on as more people get to know about it.”

Q: What kinds of events have you made yard cards for in the past?

“Birthdays, graduations, retirements, welcome home, birth announcements, anniversaries... a wedding proposal… It’s so much fun because every sign is different and you’re just making people happy because people love to celebrate their special occasions… I am gonna be doing some back to school sings at some schools. I did do teacher appreciation back in May.”

Q: How’s it been in general?

“People really appreciated the option during COVID when they couldn’t get together and have parties… Graduation is the biggest time that I’m busy… I was booked for May. It was crazy. It was good, good business,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve gotten better at it over time. There’s definitely a creative process that goes into it.”

Q: How did you start out?

“I started three years ago. I noticed that Alaska didn’t have anyone doing yard cards, and I was looking for a side business to do. I was familiar with yard cards because I grew up in Indiana back in the late eighties… I just always thought that was a neat business to get into, just to help people celebrate special occasions in a unique and different way… Yard carding is really big in the southern states, and since COVID, it’s really kinda spread throughout the U.S.”

Q: How many customers do you usually work with per month?

“Probably between 10 and 20 a month.”

Q: Has your overall base grown over time?

“Yeah, definitely grown. Like I said, graduation is definitely the biggest month. I do it for the central Valley, Palmer, Wasilla, Houston, Big Lake, but I also do go to Eagle River and Chugiak. I don’t go to Anchorage. That’s too far,” she said with a laugh.

Q: What’s been some of your favorite things about running this particular kind of business?

“Each yard card is so unique. So, I just love the creative process that goes into each one because I can customize with different colors and the different graphics just depending on what the person’s interested in… People are always very surprised because they’ve never seen anything like this before… It’s a different kind of gift to show someone they’re special. That’s been the fun part… That’s what I’ve appreciated the most, is just getting to know people and spreading that joy.”

Q: What are some of your long-term goals?

“Well, the past three years, I’ve just grown my inventory so I can make my signs more customizable. My goal is just to celebrate with more people… working more with the different businesses in our community to make sure they have messages to their customers that are driving by. I can help them if they’re having a grand opening or a big sale… to spread more good cheer with the signs. I’ve been trying to make more of those connections.”

Q: How much of a notice do you need to prepare an order?

“At least 24 hours. That gives me time to pull all the cards and make sure I have what the person’s asking for in case I have other cards to do that night… With the graphics— I have different sports balls, different flowers, different graduation caps, and I have two full Christmas setups with trees and ornaments— those kinds of things… When they order, they go to my website and they fill out a form and they can fill out what day they want the rental, what message they want, specific colors, and if there’s any hobbies or anything like that the person’s interested in.”

O’Connor charges $75 per order. There is also a delivery fee for Eagle River and Chugiak customers. For more information about Far North Yard Cards, call 907-355-6566 or visit their website at https://farnorthyardcards.com. To visit the official Facebook page, visit facebook.com/farnorthyardcards.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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