Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business – Sign-spinning employee Kemoy Johnson at Aarrow Advertising shows off his moves during a weekly training session.
By Abha Bhattarai, Published: May 13, 2012
AArrow Advertising holds practice once a week where the employees can learn new tricks to flip signs and show off their skills.
Another added: “Man, the helicopter toss — sometimes it slips and hits you in the eye.”
“One time the sign knocked the contacts straight out of my eyes,” someone else said. Others chimed in with tales of busted lips, dislocated knees and scarred ears.
But the show must go on.
(Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business) – Sign-spinners wrap up their training session with a group huddle.
“We lost a lot of homebuilders overnight,” Durovic said. “It was sobering to watch 75 percent of our business fall off in three months.”
Aarrow had to reinvent itself. Durovic and Kenny began wooing luxury apartment companies and national brands such as Sprint, Verizon and McDonald’s. They began advertising at concerts, baseball games and other events.
‘Think of this as a sport’
“It really catches peoples’ attention,” said Horatio Moreno, 24. “I get a lot of love from drivers — they smile, they honk, they cheer. Sometimes girls stop to give me their phone numbers.”
Many of Aarrow’s employees are high school students who are recruited through Junior ROTC and athletic programs. Hourly pay begins at $10, and goes up every few months depending in part on the number of tricks employees master, said Mike Patterson, who owns three Aarrow franchises in the Washington area.
“The guys think of this as a sport,” Patterson said, adding that employees often add elements of skateboarding, break dancing or martial arts into their routines. “To them, it’s like going to football practice or twirling a rifle.”
Patterson’s three area franchises employ 97 sign spinners, almost all of them between the ages of 15 and 25.
“That after school job stocking groceries doesn’t exist anymore,” Patterson said. “We pride ourselves in being able to offer flexible employment for students.”
Business has picked up 250 percent since last year, in part because of unseasonably warm weather in the area, Patterson said. Revenue for his Washington area franchises for the first four months of this year totaled $160,000.
Sometimes Moreno, who has been working for the company for four years and is certified in welding and electrical work, thinks about finding a new job.
Once he took a break for three or four months to explore other lines of work, but he said he missed spinning signs. Plus, he started gaining weight from the lack of exercise.
“My mom, she started teasing me, telling me I was getting chubby,” he said.
Moreno returned to Aarrow. He spins signs for about 35 hours a week and works in the company’s office, helping with data entry and scheduling.
“It’s the easiest money I’ve ever made,” Moreno said. “I’m basically getting paid to work out.”
Source : Washington Post