Businessman: City officials said wavers are against N.A. ordinance
The owner of Liberty Tax in North Augusta said there's no pursuit of happiness for him.Cuylor Leverett explained that he pays what he calls "wavers" to dress up as the Statue of Liberty each day and stand on the sidewalk to up drum up attention for his tax preparation business on West Martintown Road.On Wednesday, he said he learned he is breaking a city ordinance.Leverett said a North Augusta Public Safety officer told him Wednesday that it is illegal to "ballyhoo" in the city, and, if he refuses to get his employees who dress as the Statue of Liberty off the sidewalks, he faces jail time.Leverett said he had a hard time believing that it could be illegal to stand on a sidewalk and wave to motorists until he saw the ordinance that prohibits ballyhooing, which is defined it the dictionary as "extravagant publicity or fuss."According to the ordinance, "it shall be unlawful for any person to solicit business in the city by calling out through megaphones or otherwise, to persons passing or standing on the street, or to solicit or attract trade by methods commonly known as 'ballyhooing' or 'pulling in' or by the use of any mechanical appliance creating a noise."Leverett argues that the dancing Statue of Liberty men and women have never yelled or used vulgarities in their attempt to attract business and said he even pulled up signs after he learned a city ordinance prevented him from using those.On Thursday, he said he sent an employee out dressed as the Statue of Liberty, but this time the man didn't have any type of sign advertising the business.The only thing the employees were doing was waving an American flag on the side of the street while wearing a Statue of Liberty costume, he said.But for a second time this week, he said he ran into trouble."Are you telling me I'm not allowed to put someone out there without a sign, simply in a costume and waving an American flag?" Leverett questioned.He said he's only received one complaint from the public. He said he asked the woman if his employees were using vulgarities, and she said they were not, so he chalked it up to a difference of taste and didn't think much more about it."I tell them to smile and engage people," Leverett said.But, if the employees smile and engage people dressed as the Statue of Liberty, Leverett said he fears he might be cited or even worse.He said one North Augusta Public Safety officer told him he could end up in jail.Liberty Tax is open from Jan. 1 through April 17 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday thought Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.Each hour the business operates, Leverett said he has a "waver" out on the sidewalk."We don't spend money on TV, we do some local advertising and a little radio, but we spend our money on people - the wavers," he said.Leverett expressed concerns that he won't be able to draw in enough customers to run his business without the wavers.North Augusta Public Safety officers said they would check into the matter but, at presstime, didn't say what course of action they may take next.Leverett admitted he has been warned twice.Karen Daily, a graduate of USC, has been the crime reporter at the Aiken Standard for seven years. She has reported here since 2001.