Mr. Bendo will have a new home

May 17, 2018

Mr. Bendo is getting a new home in front of a different muffler shop.

Parting with the 18-foot iconic statue is bittersweet, said Jerry Wallenstein, who is retiring and closing Buck’s Muffler Shop at 12th Street and Cliff Avenue on May 25.

Mr. Bendo’s new owner is Joe Darst of Automotive Brake & Exhaust at 2516 S. Minnesota Ave.

He plans to move the statue on Memorial Day weekend or the following one.

Wrangling with City Hall over the move has taken a couple of months, Darst said. Initially, city officials told him that according to zoning rules there wasn’t sufficient square footage on the property for the addition of the fiberglass statue. He hired a lawyer to work through that issue, but he couldn’t get the city to budge on another one: Mr. Bendo will go up without the pipe in his hand because that makes him a sign and the business already has one.

“I’ve never heard anything so dumb in my life,” Wallenstein said.

Darst plans “to let the dust settle” for a couple of months and then reach out to the new mayor to see if Mr. Bendo can get his pipe back.

“It’s a shame,” he said. “We’d love to have him back just the way he was.”

Darst said he isn’t buying Buck’s Muffler but it’s almost like he is because Mr. Bendo is such an identifiable part of the business.

Buck’s Muffler has been in business since 1956, and Mr. Bendo joined the team in 1963 when the shop was downtown. The statue moved with Buck’s to Cliff Avenue in 1965. Wallenstein started working there in 1972, and he bought the business and Mr. Bendo 18 years ago.

Darst credits Buck’s for setting him on his career path.

“Back when I was growing up, I hung around over there with Jerry’s uncle Dale,” he said. “That’s sort of what got me into the business. I was intrigued by watching what was going on over there.”

He worked in another shop for a few months and started Automotive Brake & Exhaust on East Rice Street in 1981. He moved to the former Exhaust Pros location on Minnesota Avenue in 2003.

Many people in Sioux Falls will be happy to learn that the statue is staying in the city. Community support for the landmark was apparent after a drunken driver crashed into the building and destroyed Mr. Bendo’s right leg on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010. After spending time in a cast, Mr. Bendo was repaired.

Darst said the new spot for the statue is far enough away from the road so no one should hit him.

Mr. Bendo will have a new home

Parting with the 18-foot iconic statue is bittersweet, said Jerry Wallenstein, who is retiring and closing Buck’s Muffler Shop at 12th Street and Cliff Avenue on May 25.

News Tip

Have a business news item to share with us?

Scroll to top