Don’t Jump, Dummy!
Who’s The Man?
He’s the guy Ted Kramer hired to draw attention to his business.
The Man has been sitting, standing, lying and climbing onto the roof at ATW Hardware & Supplies on Pike Ridge Road in Edgewater for six years. So it’s a good thing The Man is made of chicken wire and foam rather than flesh and blood.
In 2005, Kramer decided something was missing in his then 16-year-old business.
“Too many people said they didn’t know where we were,” Kramer says, “so I got the idea to put this guy on the roof for attention.”
Attention is what he’s gotten. Inquisitive passersby now stop in just to give their good reviews of The Man.
“At first he was just up on the roof,” Kramer reports. “Then a week into it, for Easter I made bunny ears and a basket.”
The Man as the Easter Bunny was so well received Kramer decided The Man would stay while his theme changed.
“I’ve probably done at least 15 designs a year times six years, so quite a few changes,” Kramer says.
Outfits in The Man’s wardrobe have been King Kong accessorized with a 13-foot airplane and Spiderman attached to the side of the building and fashioned with a trick or treat bag. His most controversial outfit draped a monkey over his back.
“A woman came in and thought the monkey was strangling the man when he was really just a monkey on your back,” Kramer says.
“Otherwise feedback has been pretty positive,” he says. “A woman wrote a letter thanking me for the interesting displays. So did some neighborhood kids who said they appreciated me making their neighborhood so cool.”
After an unsolved kidnapping in 2007, Kramer looked to the sky for help.
“People were upset when he didn’t return,“ Kramer says. “So I got a spaceship and a Martian suit and did return of The Man myself.”
As director, set and costume designer for this one-man show, Kramer draws on his background in remodeling and ownership of a hardware store.
“I have a big selection of hardware here that I use,” he says. “For everything else, I go to the consignment shop across the street or flea markets.”
Since the first Easter Bunny, Kramer has warmed to other seasonal holiday display, with presents under a decorated tree and The Man in a Santa suit beside a fireplace.
Like Santa, he prefers not to be seen as he works. “I used to try to be sneaky and do it at night,” he says. “But the more involved the displays got the less practical it got, so now I try to be fast so it won’t be spoiled for people.”