March 19, 2013
Anthony St. Louis nodded and smiled at a passing car Tuesday as he spun his sign on the corner of Barnes Road and Powers Boulevard.
The driver of the car gave a honk and wave to the sign spinner for Liberty Tax Service. The 21-year-old, dressed in his green Statue of Liberty costume, responded with enthusiasm, twirling the arrow-shaped sign once again before flipping it onto his foot, tossing it back into the air and dancing around.
“I have a lot of fun spinning it,” said St. Louis. “I play hacky sack also. It’s just like that. I love to see how many tricks I can do in a row before I drop it.”
St. Louis and Jessie Flora, a spinner for Gold & Silver Buyers, battled each other and the wind Tuesday at about noon for the attention of those driving through the busy intersection on the eastern side of Colorado Springs.
“I spin next to him almost every day,” said Flora, who has worked about a year for an independent marketing agency that supplies spinners to businesses up and down the Front Range.
Flora, who works 10 hours a day, said there’s some competition when either he or St. Louis really begin to throw out some tricks.
St. Louis is just learning the trade, starting about a month ago for the 2013 tax season. He also works at IHOP and does the spinning thing part time, he said; he declined to say how much the part-time gig pays.
Both said that when the weather gets cold and wet, their job becomes a real challenge. But St. Louis said there are some benefits on those cold, nasty days.
“I’ve had people stop and give me Starbucks to keep warm,” he said. “I’ve also been offered some tips. But I don’t take them.”
According to St. Louis, the only downside of spinning signs is dealing with rude drivers. But he said most are great and seem to have fun watching him do his thing.
St. Louis did say he had a friend that worked for Liberty Tax but quit after a driver threw a smoothie at him.
“Some people drive by and give me the finger, but that just makes me turn up my headphones and dance some more,” he said.
Business managers said the sign spinners are some of their most valuable employees.
“I think they’re very effective,” said Angie Barela, manager of Liberty Tax on Barnes Road. “At the very least they bring attention to our location.”
Barela said new clients walk into her office and immediately say they’ve come just because they saw the sign spinner, or “human directional,” as Barela said was the technical term.
Bethany Opsahl, the manager of Wild Wings ‘N Things on North Academy Boulevard, said she can see results shortly after her bright yellow Chickenman takes his spot near the highway during the lunch and dinner hours.
“If it’s slow and you send them out, business picks up,” said Ospahl, who has worked at the location for 10 years. “It’s a great strategy. It really works.”
Ospahl said she’s had several customers over the years tell her that the Chickenman would wave, they’d see the bird and “turn around and come to see what you guys have.”
On Tuesday, the Chickenman suit was filled by Mary Raber, who also serves customers inside the store. Raber said sign duty gives her a nice break.
“I get to listen to music, dance and wave,” she said.
As for the full-body chicken costume, Raber said it doesn’t even stink.
“Thank God,” she said.