Drive down any of Denver’s major thoroughfares and you’re likely to come eyeball-to-eyeball with a guy in a red shirt doing a ‘suitcase flip,’ a ‘neck tie,’ or an ‘around the world’ with an arrow-shaped sign. That might very well be twenty-three year old Aaron Stuckner, one of an elite corps of twenty-five ‘spinners’ who work for a Denver advertising franchise called Aarrow Ads.
Stuckner was introduced to the sport, er, dance, er job while in college in South Florida. ‘I was looking for something to do on Craigslist,’ he says, ’and I saw this ad for a spinner. I’d seen somebody doing it back home in Culpepper, Virginia where I grew up, and I thought it looked like a great way to make some cash, work on my tan, meet girls, and be the center of attention.’
He applied and was paired with a ‘spinstructor,’ (‘spinfluence,’ ‘spinthusiasm,’ ‘spinfinite,’ yes, they really do talk that way in Spinsville) who taught him the fifteen basic tricks and two basic combinations that all spinners are required to master before they’re given their first assignment. Having wrestled and practiced karate in high school, Stuckner was in reasonably good shape. Even so, the training was a butt kicker.
‘Either it’s for you or it’s not,’ he says. ‘Most kids who’ve never done sports don’t last too long. The sign weighs five pounds, and it takes at least two months to get in shape for an eight hour shift. My first assignment lasted three hours. An hour into it, I threw up and almost passed out. But I was mentally psyched and just kept on going. I wanted to take it to a whole new level.’
Within three months, he was selling ads for the company, and by August of 2009, he was on his way west to become a ‘spinstructor’ for the Denver franchise. Stuckner estimates he’s trained a hundred spinners over the past three years.
Ranging in age from 16 to 26, most of them spin part-time, working ten to fifteen hours a week. A lot of them are already pretty good at some wonky non-traditional sport like skateboarding, BMX biking, or Japanese sword fighting. ‘We look for athleticism and stage presence,’ Stuckner says.
The latter is especially important since spinning is essentially a performance art. ‘Each kid brings his own personality and style to the job,’ he says. ‘At a busy corner a spinner will look at 15,000 people an hour. You spin when the traffic stops. Freeze and hold when it’s moving. You also smile, make eye contact, and point at people. It’s very ‘spinteractive.”
While a good spinner can earn upwards of twenty bucks an hour, there are some less tangible ‘spincentives’ as well, like for example getting flashed by girls in passing cars. ‘It happens,’ Stuckner says. ‘Beats McDonalds.’
Aarrow Ads had a fairly unprepossessing beginning when a couple of San Diego college students got hired by a real estate company to hold up signs on street corners. To pass the time, they started spinning their signs and tossing them into the air. The moves got trickier and naturally they attracted a lot of attention. As business majors, they recognized the commercial potential in what they were doing. They trained a small troupe of spinners and started their own ad business.
Things really took off when they joined forces with a franchise specialist who named the company ‘Aarrow Ads’ and took it ‘spinternational.’ Aarrow has grown to 35 franchises in five countries. The Denver franchise has some heavy hitters among its clientele; among them Channel 9, Jiffy Lube, and Phil Long Ford, for whom Aarrow claims credit for selling 200 cars in one weekend.
‘This job makes me happy,’ says Aaron Stuckner. ‘I was in and out of trouble in high school; hanging with losers, getting drunk, smoking pot, and ditching school. Spinning has taught me responsibility, leadership, and how to step up. It’s gotta be the coolest job ever.’
For More Info:
Click on ‘Subscribe’ at top of page for free email notification whenever a new article is published.