Spin City! Denver's sign spinners want you to give them a twirl

This is not going to be good. A yellow school bus is plowing down Colorado Boulevard, spraying snow in its wake, its windows revealing the tiny, messy faces of children. The combination of slush and students is enough to strike fear in the heart of any sign spinner, but Justin Loseke focuses on the kids. The smaller they are, the more likely they are to launch litter: In the two and a half months he's worked for Golden Nugget Gold Buyers, he's spent roughly forty hours a week in constant fear that he will be pegged by a Big Gulp.

It's happened to his peers outside of Golden Nugget's Centennial location. A rogue water-bottle attack, foiled by a sign, was recently recorded on camera — but that didn't stop the punks, and the owners haven't decided whether to report the harassment to police. During his time on the job, Loseke has developed a point system for street-side responses: Honks are one point, air kisses the jackpot, and children absolute zero. On his best day yet, Loseke earned sixty honks, two flip-offs, one kiss and one "Woo!," though he's not sure how to rank that.

Now, standing on a snowy street corner and grimacing inside his hundred-dollar-bill costume, Loseke stares at the bus, evaluating his chances of being pelted by either Slurpee or slush — and gives in. He steps back.

Justin Loseke twirls on South Colorado.
Anthony Camera
Justin Loseke twirls on South Colorado.
Therese Dombrowski signs her work e-mails "Spincerely."
Anthony Camera
Therese Dombrowski signs her work e-mails "Spincerely."

The workaday world of Denver's hundreds of sign spinners can come with rigorous rules, but street smarts are the most critical requirement. Smile. Be friendly. Don't smoke in your costume. Don't just stand there. Don't drop the sign — but if you do, smile bigger. And above all, watch your back.

A few blocks down the street, Liberty Tax has given its human billboard the day off. AArrow Advertising usually sends twirlers home on snowy days, because clients think they just look pathetic. Not even cars want to be out in this weather. Loseke and another Golden Nugget sign twirler stand cold and largely alone by the side of Colorado Boulevard.

The store they front is one of Denver's six Golden Nugget locations, this one located between a head shop named Daddy Dank and a small pastry cafe in a nondescript shopping center. It would be easy to miss if not for the twirlers, both of whom are spinning directly in front of a sign reading "WE BUY GOLD" in letters larger than their faces. According to Crystal Omara, one of the store's gold buyers and Loseke's supervisor today, sign twirlers account for more than 50 percent of her walk-in business. When customers enter the store, they are always asked what attracted them in the first place. Overwhelmingly, the answer is something like "That guy outside."

As far as this guy goes, Loseke is a quiet, friendly and overtly mediocre example of a sign twirler. He is okay with this, though, and so is his employer. He doesn't know any sign-spinning tricks — in large part because he was never taught any — and his go-to move is simply to cradle his sign and rock it back and forth like a very tall, thin baby. He is efficient, if introverted, but his fear of Big Gulps, combined with a fondness for listening to New Order through his earbuds, guarantee that he won't win an international sign-spinning championship anytime soon. (Yes, those actually exist.)

Instead, he just does what he was hired to do. And in the process, he satisfies a personal goal: He makes some gold of his own. When Loseke was laid off from Lowe's in November, he applied for around fifteen jobs on Craigslist; Golden Nugget — whose ad just asked for his name, number and availability, which, as a psychology major at Metro, he has a lot of — was the only business that returned his call. After two brief interviews, during which he donned a Santa costume and basically proved he could hold a sign, Loseke earned the spot.

Loseke's first hour on the job was his worst. So many chunks of the Santa outfit sloughed off that one pedestrian stopped to take a photo, and the belt that came with it couldn't make up for the worn-out elastic inside the pants that kept sliding from his skinny waist. "I try not to get too down about it, but people drive by and it seems like you're the butt of every single person's joke," Loseke says. "And that's because you are. They just look at you like they hate you, and they don't even know you."

Standing on Colorado, one hand on his pants and the other on his sign, Loseke wondered what to tell his parents about his new gig. "I don't think I ever completely stopped being embarrassed of what I do, but at least it became a job," Loseke says. A job where, when he pulls up at Golden Nugget at 10 a.m. five days a week, he is given coffee, a costume and a bottle of Febreze, should he require it. "It's not a tough job, even if my mom isn't super-excited about it. I get paid $10 an hour to basically do nothing."

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11 comments
xgrioux
xgrioux

This article is very bias towards promoting Arrow's company. Golden Nugget pays their spinner a lot more then others, provides insurance, provides training and provides flexible schedules. Also, several spinners that proved themselves easily moved up in the ranks. Every job has their downfalls, but I have to say that is ALL this article is focused on. Shame on you, you call yourself a journalist? 


guest
guest

The Weed guy is rather obnoxious, I am not against MM but this guy is too aggressive, kids and bad Senior Citizen drivers don't need the incentive or distractions of someone trying to get themselves tagged on Colorado Blvd.

Guest
Guest

the weed guy is Mr. Ed. he had his eye beat out of his head once for being a drunkin asshole.

Guest
Guest

So, how much does AArow pay its spinners?

Dearjared
Dearjared

This is a job that doesn't need to exist in the first place. Eliminate the problem by eliminating the job. Twirling signs never brought me or anyone I know to anyone's business. They never will. They are just as bad as a Dealin' Doug commercial. Nobody twirls a sign like him - nobody.

Nick
Nick

Shish Kabob Grill

xgrioux
xgrioux

Also, I am the O'Mara she supposedly quoted in the article. and I never said 75% of the things she quoted me on. Wow. I can't believe it took me this long to read this article. I do not authorize you to use my name to lie about what I said so delete this article or remove all of what you think I said. 

Babydoll0630
Babydoll0630

Why get rid of this job in this economy.......flipping tard.

calhounp
calhounp

i'd like to publish your comment in our print edition, ideally with your full name/town. if that's okay, e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com.

 
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