A Positive Spin on Local Skagit Valley Businesses

Here is a recent article about our sign spinners from the Skagit Valley Herald in recent news! Check out our “sign guys” in action!


Positive spin

Sign spinners put ads in motion

By Mark Stayton


BURLINGTON — In the traffic-packed aftermath of the Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge collapse, when commuters and tractor-trailers jammed the local byways to get around the collapse site, businesses needed extra help in luring customers off the roads and into their stores.

Some of them found that help with sign spinners.

Friendly, energetic and always at least slightly amusing, sign spinners were called in by a number of local businesses to help pull motorists out of the gridlock and into stores.

One of the sidewalk warriors was Luke Swedelius of Sedro-Woolley, who started working for the regional sign spinner management company Creative Ads in early May.

An avid skateboarder, Swedelius said he usually listens to rock and heavy metal and thinks of his sign like a skateboard to find his creative groove.

“Just kick-flip your sign, that’s what I call it,” Swedelius said.

Alicia Wiseman, manager of Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Burlington, said during the collapse she employed up to five spinners at a time, including Swedelius, on nearby streets with plenty of success.

Christian Korsgren, 20, spins a sign for Mattress Depot USA.“Within 20 minutes of sign-spinners going out there, there would be customers in the store,” Wiseman said. “And 20 minutes after they were gone, you would hear crickets.”

Wiseman said her store’s sales dropped 55 percent during the collapse compared to last year, but, “ … without sign spinners, we’d be down 70 percent.”

Located on Marketplace Drive — off Burlington Boulevard close to the Burlington Bridge — the Ashley store and Mattress Depot were difficult to access and avoided by motorists just trying to get through the tangle, said Doug Harrison, store manager of Mattress Depot.

Harrison said he contracted a sign spinner and found quick results.

“Immediately, he was our most prolific source of customers,” Harrison said.

Even if they didn’t stop in, the sight of a guy dancing happily with a Mattress Depot sign was not lost on passing motorists, Harrison said.

“We actually got calls from people out of town saying their commute was lightened up a little by him. It’s pretty cool. I’m actually real proud of him,” Harrison said, adding that the sign spinner is now working for the store on a regular basis.

Swedelius worked for eight years as an auto-body technician, but said his $27,000 set of tools was stolen more than a year ago, making it hard to get back into the industry.

“It’s just discouraging to tell people you don’t have your own tools, after you work for them for so long,” Swedelius said.

He said sign-spinning hasn’t been a bad interim gig until he can buy another set.

“This is right up my alley. It doesn’t pay all too well, but I get to skate all day with my sign,” he said. Swedelius said he works five-hour shifts, with 15-minute breaks every hour and a half.

Reactions to Swedelius’ high-flying flipping style have been positive so far. “I haven’t seen any rude people. You get a lot of thumbs up, a lot of metal signs, peace signs,” he said.

Richard Thesenga, owner of Creative Ads, said his business is finally picking up three years since it got off the ground. He said sign-spinning works especially well for bigger companies, where large sales need significant foot traffic to turn a profit.

“It’s really effective because it draws a lot of attention,” Thesenga said.

Thesenga said he started holding signs through a temporary agency after losing his job as a machine operator. He said a client wanted more flair than holding a sign while standing in place, so spinning and waving were introduced to his crew. A few YouTube videos of fast-moving spin sequences later, Thesenga was hooked.

“I thought it was the coolest thing ever, because I’m into skateboarding and all that kind of stuff. I like to take stuff to the extreme,” Thesenga said.

He said Creative Ads has 10 regular clients and manages 25 to 30 spinners at a time. He said the job often attracts hyperactive people, but it’s not for everyone.

“If you know you’re good and you’re having fun, it’ll work for you. If you think standing out on the street and holding a sign is a crappy job, you’re not cut out for it,” Thesenga said.

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