BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Transportation Department says the “Welcome to Idaho” sign that once stood at the Idaho-Nevada border along US 93 has been sold at auction for $11,200.
The 4-foot by 8-foot sign was covered with stickers by people who stopped to take a break and snap pictures when entering the state.
Rather that simply replace the sign, ITD decided to install two news signs in that location. One was a new “Welcome to Idaho” sign and the second in the shape of Idaho, which is for people to place stickers.
ITD said social media and the media attention helped fuel interest in the sale of the sticker-covered sign. The bidding started at $100 on Sept. 12.
“It was very slow going for quite a while,” explained D4 Program Specialist Technician Shara Stowell. “After a Facebook post and some tweets were made, the media took notice, and bidding started to pick up as the public became more aware.”
After KTVB ran a story on air and online, the overnight bidding quickly grew to $1,600. But it didn’t stop there. The Associated Press picked up our story and put it on the state wire service.
By the morning of the final day of the auction, the bidding had reached $4,500. It then became a bidding war between two parties, who pushed the final bid to $11,200.
“I never thought it would go that high,’ Stowell said. “I was absolutely blown away.”
ITD spokesman Reed Hollinshead said the winner picked up the sign on Friday. That person has requested to remain anonymous.
ITD Senior Leadership Team is looking into applying the money toward a safety project in the region, or applying that money toward innovation, since it resulted from a new idea.
Officials say auctioning off surplus signs like this one could be a future trend for the department as it looks to stretch taxpayer dollars.