The Joke’s On You at Smiley’s - BodyShop Business
Connect with us
Close Sidebar Panel Open Sidebar Panel

Shop Operations

The Joke’s On You at Smiley’s

Advertisement

Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

Jeff Smiley usually has a fake grin on his face as he walks around his shop in New Castle, Ind. But it’s not the typical fake grin worn by someone who’s trying to look happy when he’s really pissed. Rather, it’s a “smile-on-a-stick” prop, one of several hundred gag gifts he has collected over the years and displayed in a glass cabinet in his office at Smiley Body Shop for all to see.

Click Here to Read More
Advertisement

The fact of the matter is, the 55-year-old Smiley doesn’t need the prop at all. True to his last name, he’s smiling all the time and loves to play pranks on his em-ployees and an occasional hapless appraiser. His odd collection of magic tricks and novelties keeps everyone loose in the shop and makes an indelible impression on customers who can’t help but ask about them when they come into his office.

“It has become a big conversation piece in my business dealings,” Smiley says. “Customers know I like this stuff and will sometimes bring in gags for me. I’ve got boxes full of them upstairs.”

Advertisement

Smiley has had a passion for these gag gifts every since he was kid, when he would order them from the back of comic books. Now, he orders most of them by the dozens from Loftus International in Salt Lake City, Utah, or may spot one while traveling and scoop it up. He’s got so many now that he frequently gives them away to children and customers. Whether it’s two-foot-long rubber feet, fake cigarettes or noisemakers, they never fail to make someone’s day a little better.

One of Smiley’s favorite magic tricks involves putting a lit cigarette out on someone’s tie.

“You’d swear your tie was destroyed, but when you open it up there’s no damage,” Smiley says. “I could teach that trick to anyone in 60 seconds.”

Advertisement

He’s also fond of a little princess and a mirror, both of which are magnetized so that when you hold the mirror up to the princess, she dances and spins around.

“Things like that are harder and harder to come by,” Smiley says.

As far as some of the pranks Smiley has pulled, one time he put a tailpipe whistle in an estimator’s car. Shortly after leaving the shop, the estimator came back and said something was wrong with his car. Smiley stalled him for about 15 minutes with a cup of coffee while his technicians “looked” for the problem. He then announced they had “fixed” the “problem.”

Advertisement

“What do I owe you?” the grateful estimator asked.

“I told him, ‘Don’t worry about, we’re friends,’” Smiley says with a chuckle. “So I’ve kept him owing me one to this day.”

Another time, Smiley had his staff of conspirators jack up the back of a parts guy’s van so the wheels were barely touching the ground. Naturally, when the guy put the car in drive it didn’t go anywhere, so when he really got aggressive and the van took off, the sound he heard made him think the transmission had dropped out.

Advertisement

But regularly playing jokes on others comes at a heavy price: Smiley has to be on guard at
all times.

“I’ve done lots of things to my friends, but I get it back sometimes, too,” he says.

Writer Jason Stahl is editor of BodyShop Business. He can be reached at (330) 670-1234 ext. 226.

Advertisement
Click to comment
Connect
BodyShop Business