Margate considers regulating human advertisements

City would limit size of signs, where pitchmen stand

MARGATE, Fla. - City commissioners in Margate want to reign in the street side pitchmen who hold signs on the side of the road. 

To motorists, those human sign holders offer a humorous distraction from traffic, but to small business owner, those hardworking sign spinners hold the keys to their success.

"It really seems to help," said John Ackerman, who owns a gun and ammunition store that is tucked away in the corner of a small shopping plaza along U.S. 441.

The man Ackerman hired to hold a sign with the name of his business was wearing a giraffe mask Tuesday afternoon.

Ackerman said his street side giraffe is the only way a lot of customers even know his store is there.

"I would say on a daily basis, I get three to five customers a day who say I saw the man with the sign and they come into the store," Ackerman said.

Human sign holders are a popular and affordable form of advertising for small businesses. But city leaders have resigned to regulate the human sign business in Margate.

"There's a big misconception that we're outlawing human signs. We're not outlawing human signs. I have to stress that," said Margate City Commissioner Frank Talerico.

Talerico said a new ordinance will limit the size of the signs these sales people can carry to 6 square feet. For example, a sign can be 2 feet high by 3 feet wide. The ordinance will also prohibit the sign carriers from standing in the public median and swales. Instead, they've got to stay on the sidewalks or private property.

"It's a safety concern for both the person holding the sign and the person driving in their automobile. We don't want anybody to get hurt", Talerico said.

"You know what, it's even dangerous standing at the bus stop," said Calmalle Powell, who owns a Jamaican restaurant on U.S. 411.

Powell said about half of her customers come into her restaurant after seeing the man holding her "Lunch Special" sign on the street.

Business owners Local 10 talked to seemed to be okay with the new law, as long as they can still drive customers to their business.

"We agree to it. If it happens it happens. It still is a form of advertising for us and we really need it," Ackerman said.

City commissioners will take a final vote on the new human sign ordinance at the meeting on Wednesday evening.

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