By Debbie Adams
Sun Solutions has completed the installation of an eye-catching vinyl window decal at 121 West Lee Avenue in downtown Vinton—part of Vinton’s new Business Window Decal Program.
Jeff Belcher, owner of Sun Solutions on Walnut Avenue, has partnered with the Town of Vinton to create and install unique custom window designs in businesses in the business district. They worked with Jeff Janney of Vinton Appliance on the project on Lee Avenue which is currently being used as warehousing space. The decal project is funded by the town.
The window design features the theme of the Vinton Farmers’ Market that is just across the street, with pictures of market products and also a guitar and music symbols, representing the many concerts and festivals held at the market.
“We wanted to dress up and communicate the positive energy and growth within downtown Vinton,” said Town Manager Pete Peters. “While locals may be aware of the activity, it occurred to me that we have so many commuters and visitors coming through town, that perhaps they wouldn’t know what Vinton Appliance, Twin Creeks Brewing, the Dogwood, or Star City Playhouse and others are up to with regards to expansions.
“With so much going on, but in various stages of construction, I felt we were missing an opportunity to show off that growth in a more attractive and consistent manner,” Peters said. “My hope is to continue to provide this assistance and work with each property owner to design a highlight to showcase their business, incorporate the ‘InVinton’ branding, and accurately communicate that something new and exciting is in production. These aren’t meant to be permanent–just a temporary solution until they are ready to open and show off what’s inside.”
The decals are perforated vinyl window statics, featuring a theme and the “InVinton” branding. Belcher says the decal for 121 West Lee was created by graphic designer Paul Griffin, with suggestions on what to include from Chasity Barbour, the Vinton Director of Planning and Community Programs.
Once the design was complete, Sun Solutions printed out the vinyl sheets and transported them just down the street. Employee Nancy Rogers spent parts of three afternoons installing the vinyl—in a process similar to installing adhesive shelf paper (by peeling off the backing), but on a much larger scale, and requiring scaffolding and ladders.
Rogers has been involved in the sign industry since 1998. While the installation looked a little tricky, Rogers says that after over 20 years of working with vinyl, she isn’t intimidated by the process anymore. Installation can be difficult since the vinyls are quite large, and she typically works alone. “The tricky part is not letting it slip and knock everything out of alignment.” The process involved taping the vinyl, smoothing it continuously with a squeegee, retaping, and trimming with an Exacto knife.
Rogers says the vinyl is “a little more delicate” than shelf paper since it is perforated. The “ideal” temperature for installation is between 60 and 65 degrees. Hotter temperatures and higher humidity make the vinyl softer, stretchier, and harder to work with.
The vinyl and images appear to be solid from the outside but are transparent from inside the building. They will typically last about a year depending upon exposure to the sun and weather. The West Lee Avenue location doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight so it should last longer than most, Rogers says.
The project has been funded under a façade grant program in the Town of Vinton Economic Development Marketing Account which is allocated to promote the town in various manners.
“I’ve been very impressed with Jeff and his team’s effort and creativity to make this project a reality,” said Peters. “The business owners have also been very supportive and agreeable to participate. All in all, it’s a ‘win/win’ for everyone involved and I think it really helps sell the town in the sense of better visualizing some of the progress of buildings being updated for future businesses, and this whole idea simply helps reinforce the theme of being ‘In Vinton’ all throughout our downtown.”
“With Council’s vision and support, the downtown has come a long way in the last several years and is popping with new energy and activity in every direction,” Peters added. “Although the most exciting aspect is that we aren’t even close to reaching our full potential and there are so many more amazing projects yet to come.”
Janney said the town notified him of the possibility of being part of the business window decal program and he “couldn’t be happier with the result,” especially with the town picking up the cost. He had thought that the decals might make the interior of the building too dark, but that’s definitely not the case. Janney commended the town leadership and staff for all the improvements in Vinton in the past several years.
Next up on the window decal list is most likely the former Star City Playhouse building at the corner of Washington Avenue and Pollard Street. Their decals will feature dining scenes, in addition to the “InVinton” branding.