Human Sign Shakers: Do they work?

Other / Canada

Even though you may not have noticed them, I can guarantee that you’ve seen them: “Mattress Sale”, “Going Out of Business”, “$5.99 Pepperoni Pizza To-Go”, etc. However, behind these moving signs is probably someone falling asleep…while getting paid minimum wage. 🙁

I was a sign shaker once and felt a bit humiliated/exploited by the experience – although I did get a few cars to turn into the parking lot, hopefully, walking into the place that I was advertising.

So as a consumer, do these sign shakers get your attention and ultimately your business? Or do you just ignore them and keep driving by??

52 responses to “Human Sign Shakers: Do they work?”

  1. James says:

    If I’m looking for (for example) a mattress, I’ll most likely go in to take a look no matter if there is a shaker or not. But if I’m not looking for a mattress, I’m not going to waste my time. The savings are usually exaggerated anyways. And the shakers I’ve seen are for furniture, mattress, linen, $19.99 roses, halloween decorations, christmas decorations but never for pizza, food, happy hours…stuff we want…not need. 🙂

  2. Jessica says:

    No they don’t work for me. Even with the signs I still google a cheaper alternative. I also only shop when I need something.

    I dressed up as a mascot once. It only got one person in the store because of it. The rest just stopped for pictures.

  3. Jane says:

    At least it’s a job

  4. Jane says:

    Also, exploited? really? Do you think you’re too good to do work like this or something?
    If I had to choose between flipping burgers & shaking a sign, I’d take the sign shaking every time.

  5. sfaraz says:

    Its hard to find any job right now , atleast they get some job

  6. haine says:

    @Jane she probably meant exploited as in sometimes it’s humiliating… when people just laugh at you and take pictures or whatever, not implying it’s any less respectable than a burger flipper *shrug*

    I mean there probably ARE people who feel exploited if they have a job like that (but like you said, it’s a job) esp if the person who can’t find a job anywhere else but feels they are capable of more yet for now they are reduced to standing around, trying to be useful. I for one, would feel pretty embarrassed to have a job like this; i just don’t like people staring at me or worse, laughing… not because the job is not respectable (I wouldn’t knock it, since I understand this is a job, and some people need this job to get by).

  7. jennifer says:

    They get my attention.

  8. Lily says:

    They are quite rare here. The stores that do them are usually furniture sales, car washes or charity drives. Aside from charity drives, they do not work for me, not because of the manner of publicity, but because of the type of merchandise offered.

    If i saw somebody shaking a sign for a sample sale with product lines i knew, i would go.

    As for the comment about that not being a desirable job… Again, i find this offensive. A job works this way: a person is willing to pay you X amount to do something. You either accept to do it or you don’t. You had the choice to pass up on the job but didn’t. Saying it’s a humiliating job is saying we should look down on those who do this job.

    This could have been a great post if not for that unnecessary paragraph.

  9. FatB says:

    I’ve seen a couple of different teens working the sign for Little Caesars. It’s arrow shaped, and they toss it around in circles. Spin it their backs, and juggle it in various ways like a little show. While I have given them a tip for the show and working for their money, I’ve never bought any pizza from the store. ^^;

  10. Moonieya says:

    Geez people she isn’t saying the people that do this line of work are morons and should be embarrassed or humiliated only that she felt those things. She speaks only about her experience and does not state or imply otherwise. Some of you are getting mad at her for judging but your judging her and making assumptions that aren’t necessarily related. Talk about calling the kettle black.

  11. thatgengirl says:

    When I see the Pizza ones, it reminds me that I can just walk in and grab a pizza to go, so half the time, if it’s close to dinner, I do just that.

  12. Jane says:

    Moonieya, so it’s okay for her to basically imply that she’s better than people who willingly shake signs, but as soon as we point out that she didn’t need to point out the fact she felt humiliated & degraded, then we’re judging her? Would you like to explain how that’s not a hypocritical view for you to have?

    There was no reason for Stephania to include her personal history of sign-shaking in this story. Although I truly believe, after seeing most of Stephania’s posts, that the question was only presented so she could make a comment about how she’s so much better than those people who do what they’re paid to do.

  13. michele says:

    i just see these poor people and feel sorry for them, but I really don’t pay very much attention to the sign itself:(

  14. Amy says:

    And here I was thinking that the comments on the “What would you like to see on SC” blog post would be taken seriously.

    This post is gleaming proof of the fact that they were not.

  15. sfaraz says:

    they called as sign walkers not sign shakers

  16. Maggie says:

    Whenever I see these people they always look miserable and uncomfortable. It has the opposite effect on me, meaning I try to avoid that place…

  17. couponnoob says:

    I’ve seen a lot of these for Zellers closing sales lately. I agree with Maggie – doesn’t really give me the best impression of the business.

  18. Danifish says:

    I agree with some others, I always feel bad for them. It’s usually horrible weather (too hot, raining, etc) and they are stuck outside. I never really notice the advertising so on that side no they don’t seem to be very effective.
    On the other hand, yes it is a job, and these days you have to be thankful for what ever comes your way. Myself personally, I am thankful for the job I have (inside and climate controlled). I would find it embarassing, BUT if it meant a paycheck then I would stick it out!

  19. Nico says:

    To be honest, I don’t particularly care about venturing into the engaging “sign shaker” debate, but as many other posts speak to other issues, I thought I would speak to one. In regards to the feedback that was provided (and whether or not it was taken into consideration), I feel that it points to a potential problem, perhaps one involving fewer visitors to the site. I find it discouraging when a business needs my advice about how it should be run, suggesting to me that what is being done isn’t working, and they don’t know how to fix it. I realize competition plays a part in this, but it should also be anticipated. To be succinct, if the site is loaded with arguments about “which is better: margarine or butter?” or “where did you go on summer vacation?”, I’ll spend my time elsewhere finding the deals and coupons that originally brought me here. Assuming, of course, that my comment isn’t “moderated” for several days and left in the depths of the website vortex. Feedback from your harshest critics can be just as valuable as that coming from your best friends.

  20. niki says:

    at least it’s a job, they have to be getting at least minimum wage, alot of people work harder then that to get minimum wage, in all types of weather. They could be robbing, stealing stripping etc….to get their money. it is a honest job and they do sometimes get my attention. Here where I live alot of students wave the signs and I remember when I was a teenager, I definatly would have done it to make an honest wage. In this world where you have drug dealers, con artists and politicians fluanting million dollar homes and fancy cars, the very people that should be ashamed of how they get thier money, and one holding a sign for a buck has nothing to be ashamed of

  21. Moonieya says:

    Jane – it’s not ok for anyone to say they are better than anyone else and she didnt say or imply that. She never implied she was better than anyone else in any part of her post. How is sharing your personal experience related to how or what you think of other people? Would it have been better if she had said she felt self-conscious rather than exploited and humiliated? Semantics isn’t it. I don’t chew gum and feel foolish when I do so but to interpret that as meaning I think anyone that chews gum is a fool is foolish itself.

  22. Jane says:

    Yes, actually, it would have been better. Even just humiliated would have been better; but exploited? That’s just being overly dramatic about a part of her job – a job that, if she didn’t agree with what they were asking, she had every right to just up & leave if it was such a horrible experience.

  23. jojobean says:

    Half the time I see these workers, they aren’t sign shaking….they are texting, sitting on the lawn with the sign just boosted beside them, talking to friends. So, absolutely not, they do not get my business.

  24. Shane says:

    You all are really way too intense – i’m laughing on the floor. A pair of words (exploited/humiliated), something she took from her own experience and casually included, offended some of you to an extreme that is just so unnecessary it’s not worthy of the time it takes to type this.

    A lot of you need to take some sedatives and chill the h*ll out. Stop making this about yourself. Answer the question, add some productive comments to the conversation, or move on and don’t say anything. Simple. Done. I know misery likes company, but keep it to yourself.

  25. Ju says:

    For all of the people who don’t appreciate this post,
    First of all, NOBODY made you read this post. If you don’t like it, it’s alright. Keep it to yourself, she took the time and effort to write this.

  26. Mi says:

    Jane, you can’t say that. What if she actually felt like she was exploited? Where you there? Did you witness what happened? NO, you didn’t. Maybe some people were actually taking pictures or mocking her? You can’t assume things like that. What if the working conditions were horrible?

  27. Mary says:

    truth is there will always be someone that “looks down” on you… but you don’t know them, so who cares? the folks holding these signs are likely just working an honest dollar so good for them. I’d rather be them than asking for money at highway exit ramps, but that’s just me…

    that said, I hardly see these sign holders. I think I saw one for a pizza joint once…but it’s a place near my house so I was bound to drop by eventually, sign or no sign. and I’m pretty sure I saw someone once in the US and I think he was just listening to his ipod =P

  28. Gordon S. says:

    I’ve never heard of the term, “sign shaker”. To me, they just hold a sign for a store. I saw a person holding a sign for Zellers in Orillia a few weeks ago. “Big Savings. 40%-70% off.” Caused me to turn around and check it out.
    Well, it was a pretty big disappointment – typical of Zellers. I had a few things in my cart (which weren’t even that great of a deal) and was going up to the cash to check out, but noticed they didn’t even have enough cashiers and there was a big lineup.
    Zellers is a big fail and it’s no wonder it has failed as a store.

  29. Mary Walsh says:

    I think they work for charity events as you might not know about them. The people holding the signs are so energetic you do stop and see what is going on, at least I do. The stores– you stop if you where going there anyway, otherwise I tend to note them but not stop.

  30. TallNFunny says:

    Seems this happens EVERYtime Stephania makes a post. Just sayin’. I agree that “exploited” was too extreme.
    Apparently the people in there need the money bad enough, but they don’t get my business because I feel bad for the “human signs”. Just put up a sign that twirls or something.

  31. cybro says:

    It sure got my attention but not for the advertising. Imagine somebody has to stuff with a mascot costume and repeat same waving motions over and over again in a hot summer day. I am more concerned with their well being than the sign on their board or costume. Most of the time, I am worried that they can get dehydrated…

    I think everyone going through this kind of job will appreciate every single penny they earn, humiliated or not; exploited or not.

  32. Mags says:

    I completely agree with Amy. We were all asked what we would like to see, and not to see on SC. I read the comments, and the vast majority stated no more vanity pieces. Some state “well, just past the post by” – well, I was confused as to what this was about, and had to read through just to see if there was some sort of deal or freebie associated with it. So OK – if you have to include these non-deal related posts, maybe some sort of sign or warning that it is just a vanity piece and there are no deals or freebies associated with it.

  33. anna says:

    It seems like some people like to attack many posts made here or even in the forums. I really hate seeing this happen and wish it would stop. Lets leave the bickering to small children and give people a chance to speak honestly and openly instead of having to pick and choose each and every word they type.

  34. adora says:

    They make me uncomfortable.

  35. Amanda says:

    The pizza ones work on me

  36. Amanda says:

    If someone was a sign shaker and had this in their resume I would hire them! It shows a lot of dedication!

  37. Sue says:

    It’s quick cash for those who need it. Apparently itinerant travellers, homeless, underemployed (how’s that for a government term?), students, other low-income folk choose this. A lot of businesses pay for transportation and meals – at least in London, ON. They get my attention. However, don’t go into the businesses because there is someone with a sign.

  38. Theresa says:

    Just the other day I commented to my 14 year old about how good it is that some people will do demeaning jobs. Others would be too proud and collect welfare….oops sorry “Ontario Works” rather than do any job available. God bless those sign shakers.

  39. Kim says:

    At best, they’ve alerted to a business I may not have previously known was there.

  40. Sue says:

    Theresa – sadly, too many of us (myself included) have a long list of jobs they won’t do. And I work full time. Can’t expect others to work those jobs if I won’t. Worked with people for 10 years who were on assistance. Lots of assumptions and stereo-types were completely wiped out. Walk a mile in their shoes and the shoes of those sign-carriers then make your judgements. Pretty humbling and my own experience has shown me that crow isn’t very tasty…

  41. K says:

    Sad to say I do ignore them. However I feel bad for them during the winters.

  42. nick says:

    any legal job that pays should not be considered demeaning if you willingly decide to do it. Before finishing college I had some jobs that most people did not want but they paid which was all that I cared.Sometimes it is a way to get your foot in the door with a company.

  43. CandyP says:

    Lighten up all you naysayers!

    I have noticed good sign shakers (walkers) and bad ones. It’s like anything else in life; it’s what you make it. If you are getting paid for a job give it your best. Don’t just stand around like a lump, put a smile on your face crank up your iPod, portable CD player or old Walkman and groove to the music. Most people will then notice you and you will probably put a smile on their face as well as a thumbs up. I know the good movers and shakers always do this for me. They get their exercise and probably feel a lot more upbeat.

  44. haine says:

    I don’t understand why some of you are so overly critical on Stephania’s post! Most of the time when I read it, I don’t really find offence… until someone begins to break down what every sentence meant and trying to dig up any hidden meaning behind each word. Really? Just because people are entitled to their own opinion and you don’t agree with it? …

    And ‘implying she is better than other people’? Did not feel this from her during my first reading of this post.

    My point, so what if she used the word exploited/humiliated? Maybe that’s how she really felt when she took the job and what’s wrong with sharing that experience? If anything, because I never had such job before, i wouldn’t know before now that a sign walker could feel such way, and if anything, I sympathize with them more. Just because we are happy we have any job at all, doesn’t mean a lot of us are happy WITH it – simply saying “well you could always just turn it down” is too idealistic. Sometimes you just gotta take what you can until you find something better.

  45. annie says:

    I had never seen the human sign people until I came to Canada, but I have to say, any job where you legally work and earn for your family is not demeaning, or exploitation or anything like that. Well done to the people who can get up, get out, and stand there for a full day and take it! You should never be ashamed for working hard and earning money!!

  46. CandyP says:

    Well said haine!

  47. sampler says:

    It is amazing how in almost every opinion post (especially ones from Stephania ) there is always someone who is “offended” by what is written…I wonder if these people are really that sensitive in-person?

  48. Theresa says:

    Sue….reread my comment…..I DID NOT criticize people who do this job…I ADMIRE them. I took social work in school….I know there are people who legitimately need government assistance. Then there are those who could hold a sign for a few hours and honestly earn a living.

  49. Gena says:

    Completely agree with Haine, Shane and some other posters. Lighten up people!

  50. sampler says:

    lol@ Waaaaambulance

  51. aussieinbc says:

    they do nothing for me except make me feel sorry for the person holding the sign


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