With one side dedicated to honoring important Memphians and the other reserved for catchy slogans, the sign at Midtown's Las Savell Jewelry attracts plenty of attention — even from outsiders.
Earlier this month, a reporter from the European-based Financial Times visiting Memphis for a story on the current economic crisis, and he spotted the sign that read, "We refuse to participate in a recession." The reporter interviewed owner Las Savell, and the newspaper ran a picture of the sign with its May 6th story.
Though his shop has been open for 28 years, Savell began changing out the sign on a weekly basis 18 years ago.
— by Bianca Phillips
Flyer: Your sign features a name with the phrase "Made Memphis a Better Place." What inspired that?
Savell: I know a lot of people and a lot of politicians who don't contribute a thing to the betterment of Memphis. But there are a lot of average folks out there who, in their quiet way of performing their jobs or working in their churches or organizations, do make Memphis better. I decided I would start recognizing these people.
How do you choose people to honor?
I usually choose people when they die, but sometimes, I'll honor the living. A lot of people come by and say, "Would you put my Aunt Sally up? She was so nice and wonderful and she lived to be 88 years old." But I don't take requests. I have to have known that person.
What sort of reaction do you get from the community?
A lot of people bring their cameras and take pictures of the sign. I think there have been less than five names that I've put up that I didn't have someone come in and thank me for it.
Do people ever argue with your choice of names?
I've never had a negative report. I'm sure if I put the mayor or some of the City Council members up, I'd get some flack and rightly so. But I don't put up politicians.
How do you choose what goes on the other side of the sign?
I use that side for catchy phrases and things out of the ordinary. That side is mainly for public relations, and it's a proven success.
One time I even quoted the Flyer. I think ya'll ran a story about naked people, and I put up a sign that said, "We're Not Naked, But We're Nice."