As buses and cars took the left turn into the Linganore High School parking lot for the first time in almost a year, students and faculty were greated with a sign: LANCER PROUD. The sparkling red and black sign gave the Lancer community confidence and encouragement as they started their first day of hybrid learning in late February.
Linganore isn’t the only property with big, bold letters staked in their lawns. All across the nation, lawns are filled with messages in hopes of “making your BIG day even BIGGER.” From birthdays to baby showers and anniversaries or congratulations, Card My Yard is determined to spread joy in communities.
A parent, who chooses to stay anonymous, generously donated the Card My Yard rental sign for students and staff to enjoy. The Card My Yard sign came from the Mt. Airy Card My Yard.
Megan Sparks, a Mt. Airy resident and Montgomery County Public Schools teacher, was inspired by her cousin to open her own Card My Yard franchise in Mt. Airy.
“I thought it [Card My Yard] was adorable, and had asked her [Spark’s cousin] to come up for my son’s fourth birthday in August. I had so many compliments and inquiries about where I had gotten my sign, because many had never seen something like it. It was at that moment, I looked at my husband, who immediately shook his head and said- you already have a full time career, we can’t add another thing to our plate, that I hit ‘request franchise info.’ Six weeks later, I was signing a contract, and on September 28, 2020, Card My Yard Mt. Airy opened to the community,” said Sparks.
Spark’s business has been thriving throughout the pandemic. They’ve had 275 orders, donated 25 signs, and driven 3,126 miles.
“We have been so lucky to have such a great response from day one. I’m in the business of spreading joy, and people are genuinely happy to not only receive our yard displays, but give them,” said Sparks.
Sparks’ brother, Luke Baharoff, a junior at Linganore High School, helps his sister with her demanding business schedule.
“I started working for my sister because I wanted some extra cash. I just wait until around 6 o’clock to drive around and pick up birthday signs or whatever she put out,” said Baharoff. “My favorite part is knowing that I’m helping my sister’s business grow.”
As a franchisee of Card My Yard, Spark’s day looks very different from most entrepreneurs.
“When a customer places an order on our website, I first make contact to thank them and let them know I will be reaching out the day of delivery for confirmation of location and time of placement. I pull the orders, based on the color, happy birthday, and graphics they requested, then I pull more graphics and color coordinate the fluff (all the stars and balloons),” said Sparks, “The evening of delivery I ninja sneak into their yard, and usually get away without the dog even barking! I come back at the end of the rental period and collect my signs, head back home, and reorganize my garage. Then repeat. Every day!”
Sparks attributes the success of her business to the amazing Mt. Airy community. She finds joy in knowing that her business is allowing people to celebrate despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mt Airy loves small businesses and is super supportive. This is also one way to be ‘together’ when we aren’t. Our signs are used as backdrops of drive by parties, grandparents sending a big message of love from a distance, etc. When you choose joy, you are innately happier,” said Sparks.
Michelle Tranchitella, a Mt. Airy resident, recently used Sparks’ Card My Yard business to make her two daughters “big days even bigger.”
“The girls [Tranchitella’s daughters] were celebrating big birthdays (Mikayla Tranchitella turning 16 and Madi Tranchitella turning 18) so I wanted to do something bigger than usual,” said Tranchitella, “I had seen other people’s signs and thought they would enjoy them as well.”
Tranchitella found the rental process to be extremely simple and easy. Everything was done online and contactless, a plus during the pandemic. Tranchitella has already reserved a sign for her daughter’s graduation.
“I loved the signs as did the girls and our neighbors! I like that they can be personalized based on people’s interests and activities. My actual favorite part was that I didn’t have to do a single thing! They set up and take down. They are also very easy to work with and the communication was amazing,” said Tranchitella.
Card My Yard is the original yard greeting service based out of Austin, Texas. Originally founded by Amy Arnold and Jessica Stanely, the franchise has grown to over 350 locations operating across the United States.
Arnold and Stanely originally met at a women’s bible study. In October 2014, the two founded Card My Yard from Arnold’s living room with the goal of serving families and making a positive impact throughout Austin, TX neighborhoods.
“Card My Yard was founded with a mission to spread joy on a daily basis and this past year, that message and vision for our brand became more powerful than ever before,” said Jessica Stanley, co-founder and CMO of Card My Yard.
Contrary to many small businesses, Card My Yard has thrived amidst the pandemic. The company has seen a 600% increase in sales and ended 2020 with 193 new locations. They also wrapped the year with 200 signed franchise agreements, 94% of them run by female entrepreneurs.
Stanley and Arnold like to refer to their company as a “business in box” opportunity. All Card My Yard franchisees are provided with everything they need to run their business upon signing their contract.
“We are a national franchise. We supply our franchisees with all the materials they need to run their business- everything from the fully integrated e-commerce website to book orders to the signs and stakes for each order that is delivered,” said Stanely.
Card My Yard not only spreads joy and service through their signs, but also through CMY Cares.
“In 2018, we launched Card My Yard Cares to raise funds for local charities and organizations that resonated with our customers and franchise partners. Since then, the number of participating franchisees looking to join our efforts has grown tremendously. That’s why in 2021, we will be expanding our outreach program to include a different charity each month of the year,” said Amy Arnold, co-founder and CBO of Card My Yard.
Card My Yard topped off 2020 with a huge milestone by donating $25,000 to charities and non-profit organizations such as Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF,) Pop-Up Birthday, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Card My Yard is much more than staking signs into yards. From welcoming students back to school, celebrating birthdays from afar, or holding drive-by celebrations, Card My Yard is dedicated to spreading joy within communities.
“I love spreading joy. Have you ever bought a gift for someone and you can’t wait to give it to them because you know it’s the most perfect and thoughtful thing? That’s me. Every night. I get to bring that smile to hundreds of people!” said Sparks.
This story was originally published on The Lance on March 1, 2021.