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By Hilary Hagerman

Ryerson students are transforming downtown window displays into a ‘Winter Wonderland’— with the challenge of only spending $100.

For the second year in a row, The Ted Rogers School of Retail Management teamed up with the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA) to give 50 students — mostly in retail management, but some in fashion communications — the chance to create window displays for 23 downtown Yonge retailers, ranging from Sears, to the Stag Shop and to Ryerson’s own bookstore.

“We started [the project] last year because the whole tradition of coming downtown and seeing the window with your family was fading away, and we wanted to rekindle that,” said Monica Kocsmaros, the Marketing Manager for BIA.

The students, who worked in groups of two or three, were challenged to convey this year’s theme, The Spirit of Giving.

“The students have to be creative with the budget, because $100 isn’t really a lot of money to spend putting together a unique and creative business display,” said Elizabeth Evans, head of the School of Retail Management.

The budget was hard to stay within for some students. “We had 60 cents left over. It was pretty close,” said Andrea Ramos, 23, a second-year retail management student.

Ramos, along with her partner, Justin Peacock, did the window display for the Duke of Richmond at 20 Queen St. West.

Ramos and Peacock created the display for a restaurant-pub, which they said was a challenge because they couldn’t use as many items from the store as props.

“The only thing we used from the actual pub was the glasses,” said Ramos. “Everything else was a lot of creativity on our part.”

Ramos and Peacock drew inspiration from A Christmas Carol, and kept the mood “dark and sombre” by using black and red as the base colours for their display. They crafted a makeshift Christmas tree out of the restaurant’s glasses, and also incorporated a Charles Dickens book and hanging star into their display.

Ezio Bondi, 21, and John Panighel, 23, both second-year retail management students who created their display for the Stag Shop on Yonge St., said the budget was surprisingly easy for them to stay within, but they faced other challenges.

“Although we did have many ideas initially we both were always asking ourselves, ‘is this too raunchy? Can we get in trouble for this?’” said Bondi. “So there was definitely a challenge in finding the perfect balance between designing something that the store could stand behind while still representing Ryerson with class.”

The students’ displays were unveiled on Nov. 5, and will be on display until Nov. 26, when a panel of experts will judge the windows and pick the top three. Additionally, the public will be able to go online and vote for their favourite window at downtownyonge.com.

“It’s a pretty sweet feeling being able to walk down Yonge, point at the window and say ‘I made that!’ You definitely feel a sense of accomplishment,” said Bondi.

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