Sign Flipper consults council over code violation
by Matt Shinall
Aug 23, 2010 | 3893 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Julian Falkenstein flips a sign on Main Street in Cartersville to urge traffic to patronize a downtown business.  SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Julian Falkenstein flips a sign on Main Street in Cartersville to urge traffic to patronize a downtown business. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Julian Falkenstein started his business, The Sign Flipper, from scratch nearly two years ago at the age of 20. After overcoming obstacles in the launch of his new endeavor, The Sign Flipper was confronted with a new challenge concerning his advertising demonstrations and municipal code.

Using a portable sign, Falkenstein rotates, swings and flips his sign grabbing the attention of passers-by and drawing their eye to the business being represented.

Falkenstein began by researching the market, looking into options and finding the right fit for his situation before settling on an interactive marketing technique, which has proven successful in other parts of the country.

"I looked and advertising was the best thing and then I looked at what was the cheapest, most effective, what kind of advertisement I could come up with with a cost I could afford starting out and this sign thing was what picked up," Falkenstein said. "I started picking up more and more and more business and I got real good. I had about eight different companies here in Cartersville at one time and five employees."

However, during the spring of this year code enforcement officers with the city of Cartersville were contacted by citizens worried about public safety when they reportedly saw the sign dropped during his routine near a busy roadway.

"When you're standing up throwing a 6-foot piece of wood in the air on a public sidewalk -- there's a safety issue there so we have to take a look at that also. If he's on private property doing it as part of a grand opening or special event type ... there's no issue. So we're just trying to keep everyone safe," said city of Cartersville Planning and Development Director Randy Mannino.

When the violation was brought to the city's attention, Falkenstein said he was warned of possible consequences and shut down all operations immediately in order to avoid citations.

"That scared me up, it really did and so I stopped everything I did, everything I was doing just right then and there. It scared me that bad because I didn't want to get a ticket and have a $1,000 fine," Falkenstein said.

After a period of inactivity, Falkenstein knew he had to do something to try and get back to work. Code enforcement had advised him that he can hold a sign but cannot flip and twirl it as prohibited by city ordinance.

"We understand he's trying a new marketing technique and we're trying to work with him too and again we're also looking out for public safety," Mannino said. "We're not trying to run anybody out of business. If he's got a niche in the market and he may be able to make a little money marketing in this way, and if he can do it and still do it in a safe manner, we're not trying to run him off."

Falkenstein brought the issue Thursday before the Cartersville City Council hoping to reach a compromise that could be agreed on by everyone as safe while allowing him to continue his business.

"I don't really want to look like the bad guy trying to go against the law," Falkenstein said. "I can understand why there's a concern about public safety but there's a simple solution. You don't have to put me out of business because you're afraid."

The council heard his case and decided to look into options allowing his operation under certain circumstances. Falkenstein offered compromises that might include space requirements from roadways and public areas. Councilman Lori Pruitt offered her interest in finding out how others have handled similar situations.

"I'd like to look at what other communities do just to get a better idea. I like to see the sign flipping, my children like to see it," Pruitt said. "We definitely have to look at the public safety issues but I would like to see the policies in other communities because I know I've seen this in other areas."

Falkenstein was pleased with the outcome of Thursday's meeting and looks forward to the prospect of altering the ordinance so that he can work without violation ordinances.

"Whatever works, I'm willing to do it and get my business back going," Falkenstein said.

For more information on The Sign Flipper, call 678-830-7874 or search for The Sign Flipper at www.facebook.com.