MURFREESBORO — Sign spinning is serious business.
Not only do local businesses and franchises benefit from the eye-catching, flipping and flying hand-held advertisements, but some talented young people are making a nice income while gaining a fandom reserved for B-list celebrities.
And if listening to an iPod playlist while acting like a goofball weren’t enough incentive for most teens and young adults looking for part-time jobs, the possibility of notoriety as “World’s Best” sign spinner — and a $20 an hour pay raise — has its perks.
Colton Kinslow, 20, an Oakland graduate, has been spinning signs for six years. He currently holds the title as state champion for his sign spinning abilities, which include the Scissor Catch, where he throws the sign and catches it with his legs while in a handstand, and the Helicopter Tip Toe that requires he catch a horizontally spinning sign on his feet in a handstand.
“This is not just a job. We are a team, and we see ourselves as a sport,” said Kinslow who returned Monday from Las Vegas where he competed in the National Sign Spinning Championships.
The state winner placed 44th out of more than 3,600 competitors.
Kinslow is an instructor, and he’s the Nashville manager for the AArrow Ads advertising company. He teaches his skills to other new spinners hired by AArrow Ads to help them be more effective for the businesses who hire the spinners.
The rookies — and veteran spinners — who work for the advertising firm do not just get to take a sign and go wave it. In fact they undergo rigorous training that includes stamina and strength drills.
“We practice two to four times a week,” Kinslow explained, as he supervised three sign spinners Thursday doing “suicide” running exercises.
The group also does pushups, weight-lifting and cardio to help build endurance for more technical spinning skills.
While the boys practiced Thursday several hoots and cheers come from passing cars on Old Fort Parkway and Thompson Lane.
“We are all trained to be professional advertisers,” Kinslow said.
Some of the sign spinners, such as Chris Wensink, is using his attention-getting techniques to put himself through college. Others use the paycheck to do what anyone else their age would do — go out to eat, buy video games and pay for gas.
Kinslow will make a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., next month to start a group out there for AArrow Ads. He plans to make a career out of his advertising skills. However, he admits he will finish school and get his bachelor’s degree in biology, “you know, as a fallback.”
“I’m putting myself through school,” Wensink said. “I’ve had other jobs before, as a store clerk, in restaurants. This is great because I get to act goofy and entertain. I mean, that is part of the job description, act like a goofball.”
Wensink has found his niche after spinning for only a month or so. Bryant Donovan has become a sign spinning guru with more than a year under his belt.
“I just do what feels right,” he said. “I love my job. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing right now.”
Both Wensink and Donovan enjoy putting on a show and playing to the crowd, which may be why they have fans who honk and cheer them on when they spin on local corners.
“People can be really encouraging,” Wensink said.
They also plan to compete in next year’s sign spinning competitions on the state level, and hopefully the national level as well. Kinslow will also return to the competition.
“I was shooting for top 20. I will be ready for next year,” he said.