Something about sign writing causes people to use quotes inappropriately.
Writers think they’re drawing attention to a word by using quotes liberally. But if you’re a formal English usage maven, it probably drives you nuts.
As a refresher, quotes are used to denote direct words from someone’s mouth, to showcase a word as a word (like using “this” instead of “those”) and to point out that something isn’t real.
So scare-quotes suggest the sign might be lying — as in this handwritten notice for “fresh” guavas from “Mexico.”