Downtown merchants get animated with storefront displays
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | November 28,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Tim Schneller puts the finishing touches on an automated display featuring a teddy bear and a bird feeder which appears in the Timco Gallery in downtown Rutland.
At the Wonderfeet Kids Museum on Center Street, teddy bears ride up a chairlift and down a ski slope.
At Desjardins Rochon Jewelers on Center Street, a well-dressed pair of teddy bears gesture to passers-by.
At Timco Jewelers on Center Street, a teddy bear makes a snow angel.
Around downtown, animated window displays are popping up in storefronts.
“I’ve been thinking about this for years and proposed it for years,” said Tim Schneller of Timco, who also has a display in his adjoining art gallery. “It’s finally taking off this year.”
Schneller organized the downtown decorating effort with help from a $1,500 marketing grant from the Downtown Rutland Partnership. He said the Vermont Teddy Bear Company supplied a number of the bears, and Rutland High School’s robotics club helped him with at least one of the displays.
“In New York, people go to see the windows,” Schneller said. “If we could make it a destination downtown — I’ve been pushing for it and it looks like it’s happening this year.”
Michael Coppinger, DRP executive director, said 40 downtown businesses are participating.
“I think this is the beginning of something where merchants will be able to add to what they have this year or swap amongst themselves,” he said.
Schneller said the displays are relatively inexpensive and do not require a great deal of know-how.
“I buy a lot of the animated deer — the head moves back and forth — and take the motors out,” he said, adding that the deer tend to cost $20 to $30 and that he gets slightly more expensive motors, sans deer, from a German company.
“You can buy finished things,” Schneller said. “Some of them get really pricey. It just needs a little bit of movement. Some poles, some fishing line — it does a lot.”
A number of the displays can be activated by buttons on the storefront, accessible to the public. One on the Wales Street side of Schneller’s shop activates a piano-playing bear and three dogs that waggle their ears to the music.
“The one at GMP is pretty neat,” Coppinger said of Green Mountain Power’s Energy Innovation Center on Merchants Row. “It has twirling gift boxes. The Sandwich Shoppe — they don’t usually decorate their storefront downstairs. ... They did this year — it has an elf in the window that’s pretty neat.”
The displays will be in windows through the holidays.