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Public Eye: Ray Cooper, 51, human billboard

When big-box stores go out of business, Cooper cleans up
By Jake Malooley |

State and Madison Streets

The Sears store here on State Street is going out of business...
Yep, and I’m helping them get rid of all the merchandise! I’m human advertising. I recently helped close down a Kmart out in the suburbs.

So the collapse of big-box stores is to your benefit.
Yeah, kinda. The sign seems to work. When I first got here, the whole front of the store was stocked full. The whole area is emptying out, though.

What did you do for work before this?

I worked construction, but that business isn’t very good right now.

How do you find a job like this? Craigslist?
I had a buddy who was doing it, and he was gonna move out of town, so he put the good word in for me. So one day, I met this dude, Bernie, at a McDonald’s and he said, “Get in the van!” And the rest is history. I’ve been doing this ever since.

How much does it pay?
Not enough, that’s for sure! [Laughs] But it’s better than doin’ nothing. Either I’m gonna do it, or they’re going to get someone else to do it. There’s worse work than this.

How long do you have to be outside?
It’s freezing out here! Five hours. I have a lot of clothes on, though!

You should get some hot chocolate.
Nah, man. That makes you have to go to the bathroom.

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