JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The owner of a video game store is challenging an Orange Park law that prohibits him from setting up an inflatable Super Mario outside his store.
Scott Fisher, the owner of Gone Broke Gaming, used a 10-foot inflatable version of the classic video game character last summer to attract attention to his business at 686 Kingsley Ave., but was told to take it down or face a $100-a-day fine.
"Running a small business isn't easy from the start," Fisher said. "Then having the city tell me they're going to cut some of my profits out from under me in the form of not having my advertising, it kind of hurts."
Orange Park law bans business owners from installing inflatables or other portable displays that convey a message related to their business.
Fisher said his business is set back 30 feet from the street and sales have suffered without the iconic character out front. He said Super Mario drew attention to his small storefront and it became an attraction for both kids and adults.
Fisher's lawsuit argues that Orange Park’s sign code, one of many similarly restrictive codes across the country, violates the free speech protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In his lawsuit, Fisher claims that he’s allowed to have seasonal decorations, but not ones with a “commercial message."
"The best idea wins. There could be three or four video game stores in the local area, but if I happen to have the idea to put a Mario in front of mine and it draws more business, that's exactly what the First Amendment is there to protect," Fisher said.
The attorney for the town of Orange Park told News4Jax that he has not seen the lawsuit and he would not be comfortable giving any comment until he has reviewed it.
Princess Toadstool was not available for comment.