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Doug Clark: Billboard helps weed out the humorless

A tempest in a flowerpot blooms in North Spokane.

The hubbub centers on a billboard towering over North Division Street near Lyons Avenue.

“Pot dealer ahead,” reads the text.

Now anyone with a sense of humor can see instantly that this advertisement has nothing at all to do with bud, bongs or medicinal brownies.

The billboard, after all, bears the images of five flowerpots, one of which sprouts foliage that looks nothing at all like that wackiest of weeds.

Plus there’s the business name on the sign:

“Ritters,” it reads – not “Reefers.”

Ritters, of course, is one of the city’s longtime and leading gardening establishments.

Ah, but here’s the thing I learned from joking around in this newspaper since the Pleistocene era.

Not every resident is equipped with a funny bone.

Some of you, in fact, are so tight-cheeked you could crack walnuts with your …

You get the idea.

So it comes as no surprise that Ginger Wyman (who owns Ritters with her husband, Bill) has heard from a number of humorless bozos since the billboard went up almost two weeks ago.

Take the woman who was so incensed upon seeing it that she drove straight to the business at 10120 N. Division St.

Once there, she vented that she wouldn’t be coming back. Certainly not as long as this affront to family values remained standing.

Harrumph!!!

Then there was the outraged boob with his undies in a twist. He called accusing the nursery of setting a dreadful example for our youth.

Wait a second. I thought that’s what the City Council was for.

“It’s just a joke,” Wyman said of the billboard. “It’s totally a joke.”

Of course it is, Ginger.

Anyone but a brain-dead rube can see that.

And it’s true the vast majority of billboard reviews have been positive and supportive.

It’s harmless, they say.

It’s clever.

Trouble is, it only takes a few snakes to poison the reputation of a business.

Which is why I’m writing about this.

It would be a damned shame if Ritters suffered any loss of trade just because they tried to give North Division drivers a chuckle.

Don’t let it happen.

Credit David and Deanna Camp for the billboard. The husband-and-wife ad agency came up with the edgy play on words.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” David said in a wry tone when I called him.

“It’s just an ad for pots.”

Don’t play coy with me, bucko.

I learned all I needed to know about David’s comic sensibilities midway through our interview when he told me that he had been an extra in the famed 1978 John Landis comedy, “Animal House.”

The movie’s interior scenes, he said, were shot inside Sigma Nu, the fraternity he belonged to while attending the University of Oregon.

Animal House. It figures.

Getting back to the pot dealer ad …

David said it was one of several ideas they presented to Ginger and it got the reaction they hoped for.

“I laughed so hard,” she recalled.

The billboard was put up “to make people laugh, to make people realize that we’re fun and that gardening is fun.

“I promise you we’re not doing something illegal.”

I commend Ginger and Bill for taking a comedic risk.

That said, I also shudder to think what those beacons of decency might make of the Ritters billboard that is located at Hawthorne Road and U.S. Highway 2.

“Let’s get dirty,” it reads.

How filthy can you get!

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.


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