When Pink hit the red carpet at the Grammys last month, she acted like she owned it.
She did not. Ted Resnick owned it, and he was there.
Same for Pope Francis on the Ben Franklin Parkway in September 2015. Ted who?
Resnick, 70, a son of Holocaust survivors and a champion wrestler before taking over their Flemington Department Store in Hunterdon County, N.J., is the go-to guy for big events on the East Coast that need a quality crimson carpet. His is an American story of persistence, patience, and perfection, but it starts in Europe — at the close of World War II.
His mother, Sara, and father, Jacob, fell into American hands in the waning days of the war. She had been in a slave labor camp and he had fought with Russian partisans. They met in a displaced persons camp and married two days later, Resnick tells me. “It was desperation, it was despair.” he says. “No one had anything. Love was out the window at that point, it was just join forces and survive.”
Their families in Europe had been eradicated by the Nazis, but Jacob had a brother in America who became his sponsor.
Jacob and Sara arrived in Brooklyn with $5 and with Carl, their infant son. Brother Albert took Jacob into his furrier business.
After six years, with a small financial stake, Jacob moved to Quakertown, N.J., and opened a chicken farm, an unforgiving seven-day-a-week business. In 1956, Jacob began selling shoes and clothing from what had been a chicken coop.
Jacob soon dropped the chickens, expanded the store, and added furniture. Flemington today has 150 employees and $40 million annual sales volume, testimony to the perseverance of immigrants and their heirs.
In 1967, Resnick was attending Midwestern College in Iowa on a wrestling scholarship. He was captain of the team, “living the American dream,” he says with a broad smile. Then his father died of a heart attack. Resnick left school to take over the store, joined later by brothers Carl and Martin, and much later by his son, Joel.
Resnick says wrestling taught him “a work ethic second to none” and also “how to lose and come back from it.” A wrestling official for decades, he is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
He added carpet to the store’s line and, in 1968 while working a job in Times Square, he met the director of outdoor events for Rockefeller Center, who asked if he would carpet the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.
Resnick did, and that led to other jobs. He boasts that he “never left a job that wasn’t perfect.” All his carpets are made in America, except for a sisal natural fiber made only in China that the Metropolitan Museum of Art requires for its gala.
When Pope Benedict XVI was to visit America in 2008, Resnick called the Archdiocese of New York and made it an offer it couldn’t refuse — free carpet for papal events.
“I got a million dollars’ worth of publicity,” Resnick says. Then he got “a crazy Jewish idea,” and cut the pope’s carpet into small squares. He could have sold them, but gave them away. Goodwill, he says.
Because of his great work, and the great price, he got the Pope Francis job in Philadelphia in 2015. Again, no charge.
Along the way, Resnick got the call for Ivanka Trump’s wedding, New York’s Fashion Week, President Barack Obama’s White House party for the president of Italy, the MTV Awards and, of course, the Grammys, which he attended, as well as the after-party.
After the after-party, Resnick picked up the red carpet that has opened so many doors to him and went home to wait for the next call.