Soaring tall above a strip mall in the small town of Huntly in Waikato, New Zealand, a beloved retro sign has stood for the last 10 years marking the location of nothing at all.
Tiny faded red, yellow, and blue triangles separate the letters of the rundown relic, which spell out D-E-K-A, the name of a late ’80s/early ’90s retailer that went out of business over a decade ago.
DEKA was a national supermarket chain and retail store in New Zealand before shuttering its doors in 2001. Over 40 stores were closed, including the one in Huntly. But the sign stayed up. The owner, who’d bought the Deka store in 1996 as his first property, felt sentimental about the sign and decided to keep it.
Over the years, the old sign to nowhere gained a cult-like following. It became a symbol of the town and even, say some, a national icon. It became a draw for visitors, a familiar sight for travelers, and a source of local pride for Huntly residents. Which would explain why in 2013 when the sign was threatened with removal, locals lobbied to keep it standing tall.
Not only did they succeed in saving their quirky “historic” landmark, the DEKA sign got an upgrade and now lights up at night. It did not, however, get a clean-up; residents made sure to keep its distinct look, a relic from another time.