Jessica Scheider began by painting the harlequin pattern on the back wall, a deep crimson with linked diamonds of purple plum over the top. Actually, painting was not the beginning of the process. Scheider had been coming up with a concept, a vision for the perfect Christmas storefront window, as long as a month beforehand.
The end result: oversized cardboard bonbons, painted the same colors as the wall, hanging from overhead; red and white Christmas lights draping between the pretend candies; 25 trees in different colors and themes filling up space from ankle to eye-level; fake snow, antique knickknacks and toys filling up the floor.
“It’s so predictable because it’s Christmas,” Schneider lamented, even though the display is festive and clearly idiosyncratic of her own vintage tastes. “The Halloween window was the best. It was a Bates Motel theme.”
The Christmas display came together at the beginning of December in the downtown three-story Antique Mall on the corner of First and Sierra streets; the mall opened in August. Schneider is in charge of window displays. It takes her two to three days to create a display, and she does one a month. She also helped pick out the painting scheme for the entire building and insisted to building-owner Bill Beasley (he also owns the Riverboat) that certain things already in place in what was once the old JC Penney store be left as is.
“They wanted to take out the floor of [the elevator],” she said, looking at the checkerboard pattern riding down to the basement, “but I told them they couldn’t. It’s classic. It’s all part of the history of this building.”
Schneider believes that storefront window decorating is a dying art in the Truckee Meadows. In places like New York City, Dallas, Chicago and Beverly Hills, the unveiling of holiday window displays is just as important as the tree lighting each year in Reno. People flocked to the six windows of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City earlier this month to see what sort of magic the artistic design team had worked behind closed curtains. In Reno, there’s the Antique Mall, and … the Antique Mall.
“When JC Penney built this building,” Schneider said, “they wouldn’t have even thought of building it without a storefront window, to show their merchandise and such. Now, almost every store in Reno is built without storefront windows. It’s sad. Can you imagine how cool it would be if someplace like Target had these windows?”
Schneider’s background is in interior design. She runs her own business, Decorating with Style, soon to be operating out of the antique mall. Since creating her first window exhibit, she’s been hooked and wants to do nothing else. She said she occasionally spots windows around town that aren’t being used to the extent that they could be and wishes she could get her hands on them.
Aside from the large window that runs about 25 feet across the front of the store, there’s a smaller window to the left of the entrance door that Schneider has decorated in a Strawberry Shortcake theme, which is fun, pink, quirky and more pink. One of the women who rents space at the mall had a collection of Ms. Shortcake jars, tins, quilts, pictures, books, etc. Schneider is always chatting with the store’s denizens about which of their pieces she can use as part of her window exhibits, since she tries not to use anything that isn’t from the store. She’s currently on the prowl for antique martini glasses, as the January display is slated to be a ‘50s Rat Pack martini party.
“I already even know what I’m doing for February. I just dream about this. It’s my passion. It’s so much fun."