When Bill Wyatt saw two guys on a truck unscrewing one of the panels from the beloved Silver Lake sign, he sensed trouble was afoot.
Wyatt, the owner of the quirky Los Feliz trading post Y-Que, asked the men what they were doing and quickly became unconvinced that they were authorized to take the Happy Foot Sad Foot sign down.
Wyatt has a warm spot in his heart for the iconic sign that first spun in the sun on Sunset Boulevard in 1985. Within the walls of his store on Vermont Avenue, there are a variety of tributes to the twirling advert: there are T-shirts, there are hats, there is even a spinning wheel where the pointer will land on either the smiling foot or the downtrodden one, thus symbolizing how lucky you can expect your day to be.
But fans of the sign were lucky that it was Wyatt who spotted these mysterious characters. He alerted the motel, who then contacted Dr. Thomas Lim, the podiatrist and co-owner of the foot clinic, who confirmed that the men had not received permission to flee with the feet.
It was Kismet that Wyatt was at the clinic at all. Throughout the well-documented drama regarding the Sunset Foot Clinic’s move to the Historic Filipinotown area, Wyatt had arranged with Lim to store the sign temporarily until the clinic determined if it could be relocated to the new establishment.
“I drove by just to check the measurements. There was a truck there, which did not make sense, that was obviously there to take down the sign. I freaked out at first.” he says, adding that he also alerted his Instagram followers of the possible would be theft.
The sign-swipers wouldn’t answer his questions or reveal who they worked for. “It was just too suspicious,” Wyatt says.
Running from the sign to the motel and back to the sign trying to get answers, Wyatt finally just sat down under the sign so the men couldn’t move their crane.
Eventually, the property owner and the podiatrist agreed that Wyatt could store the sign for safekeeping, and what’s safer than inside Y-Que where it is the center of attention, bringing in a constant stream of, well, foot traffic.
Needless to say, customers love it. One woman with her child thought she would never see the sign again. Another just stood inside the doorway with her mouth agape and eyes wide, eventually covering her mouth with her hand. It is big, it is blue and it is a happy sight.
The upbeat Wyatt regales everyone with the story, and they all want to hear it. Everyone has questions.
Wyatt is hopeful the sign will be able to make it to the foot clinic’s new location on Beverly Boulevard near Virgil Avenue but says it would require several factors, from paperwork to logistics, for the sign to be relocated.
Even if those requirements are never met, Wyatt says the sign would have a home under his roof.
“I would love to keep it,” he says with a smile, sporting a yellow Happy Foot Sad Foot shirt. “I kind of look at it as one old thing helping another.”