Danny Gould doesn’t have an official job title. Polly Ramirez, manager of the Savers store in Maplewood, refers to him as “our store’s ambassador of happiness.”
Gould works 12 to 15 hours a week. He comes in at 7:30 to sweep floors, take out trash and clean the break room and bathrooms. On Senior Discount Days, when store traffic is heavy, he helps put away the carts. At his previous job, at Camp Snoopy, Gould won two safety awards — once, he kept a visitor from jumping a fence into a potentially life-threatening situation. Gould is also safety-conscious at Savers: “I make sure nothing’s on the floor. Hangers are a danger. If a person stepped on a hanger, that wouldn’t be good. No brooms or dust pans in the corners.”
His favorite part of his current job, however, is “sign shaker” — standing outside the store and drawing customers in on sale days. “They love him when he’s outside,” Ramirez said. “He’s sort of a landmark.”
Last winter, Gould broke his leg and had to be off the job for three months. “It was unbelievable how quiet the store was,” Ramirez said. Gould’s support service, TSE, Inc., a St. Paul-based organization that finds community-based employment opportunities, provided a temporary replacement. Ramirez made it clear that she would hold Gould’s job for as long as it took for him to recover. He made it back just in time for sign-shaking to promote the Memorial Day sale.
When Gould was hired two years ago by a previous manager, he was told the job was temporary. “I guess I beat the odds,” Gould said. “When I got the job was the best day in my life.”
What’s the secret to being successful at sign shaking?
You’ve got to be at the right corner at the right time. On Labor Day, they have Park & Ride buses for the State Fair — I use that to my advantage. Last year was pretty funny on Halloween; I was outside sign-shaking dressed as Homer Simpson. Everyone kept coming into the store that day, asking where Homer was. I had people coming up last year asking to have their pictures taken with me. One day I was dressed as a clown out there. This kid screams out his bus window, “Hi, clown!” He actually made my day that day. My mom was in the hospital for asthma. That cheered me up.
What’s the best part of the job?
The customers — they’re fun. They’re very polite to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had one rude customer here. This is a great work environment. Most places wouldn’t hold a job for three months. Savers is why I got better — to get back to work. I don’t think I’d ever find a job like this again.
What’s the most challenging part of the job?
To clock out every day.
Where do you want your career to go next?
I want to run the CDC — the Community Donation Center. I have fun working on that. I got trained in. You’ve got to be careful what you take. You can’t take beds, cribs, car seats. No food or cleaning chemicals. We have to tell people we can’t take them. We tell people “thank you for making your donation on behalf of our veterans and the Epilepsy Foundation.” That’s one thing I like working here — we donate to veterans. It makes me proud to work here. □