Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bondsman Markets With Flair

Bail bondsman Duke Barrett's grammar can be questioned, but not his sense of humor. Barrett owns Ain't Gonna Wear Pink Shorts Bail Bonds on north Scottsdale Road in Tempe. He admits that the shorts are a reference to the pink underwear Maricopa Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio makes jail inmates wear.

"Some people come in here, see we have T-shirts with a pink-shorts logo, hot pink business cards and forms, and they don't get it," said Barrett, bail bondsman for five years who started his own business two years ago. "Most do understand the joke. Especially the sheriff's employees. They probably laugh the most."

Arpaio gets it, too.

"I've got to talk to my lawyer to see if they're stealing this from me," Arpaio said with a chuckle. "That's OK. He's encouraging people not to go to jail and get pink underwear and face the things we've taken away from them. He's helping people, in a strange way. It's good that he's spreading the word."

The front and back of Barrett's T-shirts show the universal circle with a slash symbol for "no" over a pair of pink shorts. He said he came up with the idea for the company name about two weeks before restaurateurs announced they were going to use the name Pink Taco in Scottsdale and long after Arpaio started dressing inmates in pink underwear. Barrett points out that he uses the word shorts, rather than underwear.

Barrett insists that while some of his customers think he's making fun of Arpaio's gimmick - the last four digits of the company's phone number spells out the word "pink" - nothing could be further from the truth."I'm not against the guy at all," said Barrett, who added he has never been in jail. "I'm not starting an anti-Arpaio campaign or anything like that. It's all gotten me a little publicity. It makes people smile. I was looking for an original name."

Barrett said he thinks people who use his services are already stressed out. While he takes his business seriously, he thinks a touch of humor can help ease tension.

Even in a courtroom.

Barrett said Superior Court Commissioner Lisa Ann VandenBerg smiled when she read aloud the name of his company Tuesday in court.

"She seemed to love to say the name," Barrett said. "That's what it's all about."

A spokesman for VandenBerg said she had no comment.

Barrett, also a fugitive recovery agent, admits he has tried to get the upper hand on the sheriff while doing so with criminals.

"I wanted to go with pink handcuffs, but the sheriff beat me to that, too," Barrett said. "I tell people I just want to get them out of their pink shorts. ... We'll get you out faster than the green baloney sandwiches the sheriff serves will."

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