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Chandler car dealer in hot water over sexy mannequinsSource
Chandler car dealer in hot water over sexy mannequins
by Edythe Jensen - Nov. 12, 2009 05:30 PM
The Arizona Republic
Provocatively-dressed mannequins have boosted a Chandler used car dealer's business so much that he's willing to defy city sign laws to keep them on the street.
“Sex sells cars,” said AutoMart owner Tracy Tingue, 32. He calls them his “girls” and said he put the two well-endowed sign-holding mannequins on display along Arizona Avenue near Warner Road in September. He buys them clothes at a nearby thrift store and dresses them in flowing skirts when it's windy.
But people have complained, said city code enforcer Rick Brzuchalski, and the mannequins violate municipal sign laws. Brzuchalski gave Tingue notice this week that the mannequin matter has been forwarded to the city prosecutor for possible criminal misdemeanor charges.
The violation has nothing to do with their provocative appearance, just that the mannequins are considered “temporary signs” that don't have a permit and don't fit the categories allowed under municipal law, which allow banners and placards that promote grand openings, real estate sales and special events.
Prosecutor Tom Zaworski said it takes about 30 days to review code violation cases before charges are filed or declined. If he is prosecuted, Tingue could face a maximum $2,500 fine or six months in jail. The city also could confiscate the mannequins.
Tingue said he has retained an attorney and has no intention of taking down his girls. “It's worth it in the long run to me” even if he has to pay a fine.
“I've been here for 14 years; I started as an employee with this business when I was only 17,” Tingue said. But selling used cars during the recession has been difficult “and I felt we needed a little spice, something to show we're here to stay.”
The mannequins are living up to his expectations and sales are increasing, Tingue said. “People notice the girls. I've watched people drive buy and whistle or say, ‘Hey,baby'.”
He and his wife comb their wigs, apply fresh makeup and take them inside at night. Tingue is making plans for winter outfits with sports-related themes. “I intended to have them in goofy poses, like looking under the hood of a car, but they're not that flexible.”
If they were human, they would probably be protected under state sign-walker laws, Brzuchalski said. Tingue said he once hired live sign walkers but it cost him $2,800 “for a couple of weeks…I spent $700 on the girls and they don't talk back.”
The only recent complaint Tingue said he got was from a passerby after someone had removed a portion of one mannequin's blouse, exposing an anatomically correct plaster breast.