Q&A: Las Savell, 

Owner of Las Savell Jewelry

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?

click to enlarge BIANCA PHILLIPS

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."

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