Will He Stay Or Go?: Land That Mr. Bendo Stands On Up For Sale

Will he stay or will he go? Mr. Bendo, the iconic figure that sits in front of Buck’s Muffler on the corner of 12th Street and Cliff Avenue, is once again the talk of Sioux Falls. This time because the land that he stands on is up for sale.

Jerry Wallenstein started working at Buck’s Muffler when he was just 16. Sixteen-years-ago he acquired the business. At 60, he says he may just have to sell it.

“The property is for sale and that’s going to prompt me to sell the business,” said Wallenstein.

While the business is all Wallenstein has ever known, there is someone, something that has been here even longer.

Wallenstein said, “In 1963, he was built out in California and shipped here on a train.”

The 20 foot fiberglass figure that oversees Buck’s, was purchased by the shop’s original owner. He first appeared in downtown Sioux Falls on Phillips Avenue. But most people know him for where he stands now, and his ups and downs.

“We took him down in 2001, I think, to paint him and it wasn’t 20 minutes later and the radio station called and wanted to know where Mr. Bendo was at,” said Wallenstein.

Nine years later, a drunk driver crashed his mini-van into the statue, shattering his leg. A Facebook Page was even created in support of his return.

“I spent about $8,000 getting him fixed back up again,” Wallenstein said laughing. “That’s two months out of my life I will never get back again, that’s all.”

Mr. Bendo was out of commission for two months, before returning with a cast on his leg; thousands of people signed.

Wallenstein said, “Just like right now, anytime something happens or if anything goes on with Mr. Bendo, everybody gets all revved up about it.”

Now ‘revved’ up about him possibly relocating somewhere else. When Jerry does sell, he hopes that Mr. Bendo will be a part of it.

“Mr. Bendo has been there a long time. He’s just a landmark. I hope, I hope to see him stay in town.”

Wallenstein says when the day does come, he’ll miss the business, and yes, even Mr. Bendo himself.

Mr. Bendo’s old cast somewhere is still at Buck’s Muffler. They say that could go with the statue, if the potential new owner would want it.



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