What unfolds before you on a drive down Mack or Kercheval avenues, the Pointes two main business drags, is mostly just a blur of stores, offices and other businesses.
Some stand out more than others. Their signs, facades, etc. but in cities like the Pointes, the storefront standard is a unified, cohesive look that, frankly, can add up to bland.
While other cities' storefronts and window displays are drenched in creativity, uniqueness, comedy or drama (live mannequins), that level of artistic style is at a trickle in the Pointes.
However, if you slow down and look closer there are local examples of fun or silliness, attitude or style, art or creativity around.
Maybe you know their work already.
There's businesses like on Mack Avenue near Vernier Road, where freehand paintings of funny animals and catchy sayings are paired with unusual promotions such as Dance for a Discount.
About a mile away on Mack near Moross is and its involved displays, somewhat old-school displays. In the window now is a tropical scene of faux palm trees, a lei-wearing mannequin, a poster for St. Kitts and more.
In between Lou's and Merit Woods is , where a signature painted birch tree arches over criss-crossed clotheslines of clothes-pinned fabrics. Not far away, shows off seasonal displays, currently painted and cut-out butterflies, tulips, birds, spinning pinwheels framing the bikes that will take us out in to experience springtime for real.
deserves some props not for a window display but for the mannequin that so many of us have laughed at or waved to as she sports her funny hats, formal gown and other attire. She is as much a part of their business as making keys.
Altogether they are businesses that want to sell not only goods to us, but personality.
Lou's Pet Shop owner, Donny Cook, in business just six years compared to Merit Woods owner Sheldon Weisberg's 46, share the be-creative, have-fun approach with their windows.
Weisberg decided about 35 years ago to make the most of his storefront.
"When I first started here I put signs in my window, this on sale, that on sale," he said. "The city passed an ordinance no signs could be in the windows.
"So I had to come up with another idea. The other thing I could do was come up with this: a display. I got myself a display man… He used to do display work for J.L. Hudson's downtown…He had a lot of material he could use in the window."
What goes in the window is usually seasonal or holiday related, changed every few months, and it's a collaboration between Shelden and his display man.
In his window since January--you might know it--is the tropical scene meant to puts us cold-weather dwellers in a warm state of mind, Weisberg said.
He'll soon change the window.
"Our store is sort of ugly….compared to the new stores, the CVS and their beautiful stores. I call ours a toilet, but it's mine and I cherish it and I want wanted to come up with something that would make it more attractive and make other people cherish it, my customers, who I call my friends," Weisberg said.
At Lou's Pet Shop, the windows change as staff comes up with new promotions or when some spur-of-the-moment inspiration hits, Cook said.
Currently, a big koi with a XX is painted on the window. The last one, playing off of Lent, was a dog with a fish sandwich in one hand and a fish bowl in the other, advertising a Fish Filet Sale.
"It's kind of a collaboration of a bunch of creative guys around the shop as well as myself," Cook said. "The nice thing about being an independent shop is doing whatever your heart's content…as long as it's tasteful, not offensive."
"We're not specialists by any means. We're kind of young…It's a fun thing," said Cook, 30.
The main members of the window display team--my word not theirs--is Cook's brother, Preston, and employee Josias Iglesias.
"What we do is kind of random. It depends on how the sale is developing….If it's good we'll keep it on a little bit longer. If we see we've hit a dry note we'll switch it out. Or if we think of something we just really want to do."
"We did dance for discount….We have a lot of video of customers on Facebook. That was a fun one," Cook said.
The fun attitude goes with his business style.
"It was kind of my goal when I got into this and I thought of everything I wanted from a pet shop when I was growing up….I want to have more a community shop where kids could come in and get to know the animals and have fun. I didn't want the old grumpy guy behind the counter saying don't touch."
The window paintings can give the message: this is a fun, relaxed place to be.
"It's one of first things people identify with. We could do a much better job, but we try to come up with something fun and interesting and good for business."
It's about getting customers to slow down, to notice, Weisberg said
"When you go by the store, down mack, you can go by it before you even notice it, Weisberg said. "The only way I could get attention was this."
This is a new weekly column about businesses in the Pointes, about their personalities, philosophies, histories, successes--and failures--and about the people who own them and work for them.
Let us know of other windows or storefronts that impress you or send us a note if you know of some place, some thing or some one business-related in the Pointes that might be story-worthy.