US 3730603 A
The invention is an open-top, refrigerated display case which may be mounted on a cart, booth or the like. The display case includes a plurality of elongated bins placed side by side in a stepped array from an upper bin at the rear of the case to a blower bin at the front of the case. The bins are thus advantageously arranged to provide a best possible display of merchandise within them. At the same time, the stepped arrangement permits a slow flow of refrigerated air as from back of the case, from the upper bin, and forwardly into the lower bin with the cool air cascading over merchandise especially within the lower bin.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Appl. No.: 127,497
United States Patent 1191 1111 3,730,603
Looms May 1, 1973  REFRIGERATED DISPLAY CASE FOR 2,741,101 4/1956 Trulaske ..3i2/27s x FLOWERS AND THE LIKE 3,459,628 8/1969 Dixon et a1. ..312/214 X  Inventor: Peter Looms, Denver, C010. Primary Examiner JameS C- Mitchell  Assignee: Flowers a la Karte, lnc., Denver, Attorney-Van Valkenburgh and Lowe 22 Filed: Mar. 24, 1971  ABSTRACT The invention is an open-top, refrigerated display case which may be mounted on a cart, booth or the like. The display case includes a plurality of elongated bins placed side by side in a stepped array from an upper bin at the rear of the case to a blower bin at the front of the case. The bins are thus advantageously arranged to provide a best possible display of merchandise within them. At the same time, the stepped arrangement permits a slow flow of refrigerated air as from back of the case, from the upper bin, and forwardly into the lower bin with the cool air cascading over merchandise especially within the lower bin.
7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTED MAY 1 [973 SHEET 1 [IF 2 Fig. 3
INVENTOR. Looms Pe ferfia via (d ATTORNEYS PATENTEDWRY 118W 3,730,603
' SHEET 2 OF 2 INVENTOR.
Pefe'r Looms By WZ A T TORNEYS REFRIGERATED DISPLAY CASE FOR FLOWERS AND THE LIKE This invention relates to refrigerated display cases of the type which are open at the top to render the merchandise being displayed therein readily availabl for selection by customers.
A primary object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved open-top refrigerated display case having a plurality of compartments or bins in a stepped arrangement, to present a greater and more effective viewing area for the display of the merchandise within the case.
Another object of the invention is to provide, in an open-top refrigerated display case, a plurality of stepped bins which permit the cold air generated in an upper bin to fall to a lower bin and in doing so, to cascade over, and to more effectively cool the merchandise being displayed in the lower bin.
Another object of the invention is to provide in a stepped, open-top refrigerated display case, a simple, but effective cooling arrangement which will keep the merchandise within the display case cooled to a temperature which is a few degrees above the freezing point with an absolute minimum of power consumption, permitting a comparatively large display case to be operated by connecting it to an ordinary ll-volt service outlet having a limited amperage capacity.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved open-top, stepped refrigerated display case which can properly cool perishable and wiltable merchandise such as flowers, and at the same time, permit the merchandise, the flowers, to be displayed in an especially attractive manner.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved refrigerated display case for merchandise such as flowers, which may be provided as a neat, attractive and compact unit, such as a cart, capable of being quickly moved to selected locations where people congregate and where the sales potential for the flowers is best.
Other objects of the invention are to provide a novel and improved refrigerated display case which is of a simple, rugged construction, economical and reliable in its operation, and requires practically no maintenance.
With the foregoing and other objects in view, as hereinafter appear, my present invention comprises certain constructions, combinations and arrangements of parts and elements as herein described, defined in the appended claims, and illustrated in preferred embodiment in the accompanying drawing in which:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a wheel-mounted cart which contains an open-top, refrigerated display case having two display compartments or bins in a stepped arrangement according to the principles of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a transverse sectional elevational view of the unit shown at FIG. 1, to indicate the construction of the cart, the arrangement of the refrigerated bins and the location of the refrigeration machinery within the cart.
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectional detail of a portion I of the view shown at FIG. 2, but on an enlarged scale.
FIG. 4 is an isometric, transverse, sectional view of a portion of the unit shown at FIGS. 1 and 2, but on an enlarged scale and with arrows indicating the flow of cold air from the upper bin to the lower bin which will cascade upon flowers or other merchandise in the lower bin.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary transverse sectional view,
similar to a portion of the view at FIG. 2 but illustrating a modified construction where the stepped display case uses three compartments or bins.
Flowers, as a commodity, are most effectively sold at locations where the customer may view a display of flowers with no previous intention of making a purchase, but will, upon the spur of the moment, decide that he wants a bouquet. Accordingly, it is very important that the vendor be at the right location and provide an excellent display of his merchandise, for the better the display, the more flowers he will sell. Flowers, however, are perishable merchandise and will quickly wilt when the air temperature where they are kept is above 45 F. On the other hand, if the flowers are kept in a refrigerated environment, where the air temperature is maintained above freezing, 32 F., but below 45 F., the flowers will remain crisp and fresh for a surprisingly long period of time.
Accordingly, a successful flower vendor must provide some means for keeping his flowers refrigerated until they are sold. This need has effectively limited the sale of flowers to regular flower shops having special cooling rooms where the flowers are kept. Such rooms do not lend themselves to attractive displays, and they also prevent the flowers from being displayed at the best possible selling locations. Flowers are an ideal commodity for sale in carts and in small booths which may be located at airports, train stations, fairs, hotels and other places where people congregate, but at such locations the problem of keeping the flowers fresh is always present.
The present invention was conceived and developed with the above considerations in view and the invention comprises, in essence a refrigerated display case for flowers and similar merchandise, having at least two elongated compartments or bins in a side by side, downwardly stepped arrangement facing the customer. A refrigeration system cools the walls of the bins and a slow movement of cold air is directed from the rearward upper bin, and forwardly therefrom to cascade downwardly into the forward, lower bin. A transparent shield surrounds the case to retain this cold air, but this cold air will be dissipated from the case by falling over the shield and by customers who stir up the air when they reach for flowers and bouquets within the bins. A surprisingly small capacity refrigerating unit will be required to keep these bins cool, and at a desired temperature, where only a slow movement of cold air is used for a circulation action. The entire assembly can be contained in a booth or cart as will now be described.
Referring more particularly to the drawing, FIGS. 1 and 2 depict the invention, the stepped refrigerated display case D, as being mounted upon a counter C, a boxlike unit, which, in turn, is mounted upon wheels to form a cart. The cart is decorated in any manner, not shown, which will help sell flowers, and in the unit illustrated, the front of the display case D is at a side of the cart directly above and behind a front wall 20 of the counter C. The left sidewall 21 and right sidewall 22 of the counter are the front and rear ends of the cart while the back wall 23 of the counter is the other side of the cart.
The counter C includes a bottom 24 and an elongated top 25 which is located immediately behind and above the display case D. Refrigeration machinery R is located within this counter C underneath the display case, and a workers storage compartment 26 is located at the back of the unit underneath the top 25.
To convert this counter C into a cart, a pair of decorative, large-diameter, spoked wheels 27 are mounted at the front and back walls 20 and 23 near the left sidewall 21 of thecounter, that is, near the front end of the cart, and caster wheels 28 are mounted at the underside of the bottom 24 near the right sidewall 22 of the box, that is, near the rear end of the cart. A push handle 29 is also provided at this right sidewall, the rear of the cart, and other items may be added to the unit to facilitate efficient use of the unit.
7 The refrigerated display case D is formed as aplurality of elongated, open-top, box-like compartments or bins which extend across the unit, from one sidewall to the other. These bins are placed in a stepped, side by side arrangement. The bins are in front of and below the elongated top 25 which is at the back of the counter. Thus, in the stepped arrangement, the top 25 constitutes the top level whereon articles which do not need refrigeration may be placed. The first refrigerated bin 30 is immediately in'front of the table 25, but its rim 31 is set below the table at an intermediate level in the but it was found that for bins which are about 12 inches wide and 16 inches deep, each level drop could be in the range of from 4 to 8 inches without impairing the function of the unit.
The first bin 30, at the. intermediate level of the display case D, includes a back wall 34 which extends downwardly from the front of the top 25 and to the floor 35 of the bin. A front wall 36 and end walls 37 extend from the rim level 31 of the bin 30, downwardly to the floor 35 to complete the unit.
The second bin 32, at the lower level, includes its back wall 36' which is at the opposite side of the front wall 36 of the first bin 30 and is an intermediate wall 36 36 between the two. A portion of this back wall 36 extends below the first bin and to the floor 38 of the bin 32. A front wall 39 and opposing end walls 40 extend from the rim level 33 of the bin 31 downwardly to the floor 38 thereof. It is to be noted that the end walls 37 of the bin 30 and end walls 40 of the bin 32 are at the sidewalls 2] and 22 of the counter C while the front wall 39 of the bin 32 is at the front wall 20 of the counter C, as illustrated in the drawing.
The proportions of the bins 30 and 32 may be established to best accommodate the merchandise which is to 'be displayed in them. For flowers, each bin may be approximately 12 inches wide-and 16 inches deep and may extend the full length of thecounter, say for example, 5 to 6 feet. Flowers are kept in these bins in bunches or bouquets which are placed in basket-like containers K as illustrated at FIG. 4. The containers K permit the. flowers to be effectively cooled without contacting and lying against the walls of the refrigerated bins, this being desirable to avoid a danger of freezing parts of the flowers.
The refrigeration system for cooling the display case is conventional and it includes a refrigerator R, cooling coils in the walls of the bins as hereinafter described, and a temperature control thermostat T in the upper bin. The refrigerator R is preferably a standard, electrically operated, air-cooled unit and it is mounted upon the floor 24 within the counter below the storage compartment and display case, as shown at FIG. 2. The refrigerator R includes a compressor 41, a condenser 42, connective lines 43 to the cooling coils, a line to the thermostat control T which is notshown, and other conventional auxiliary equipment which is also not shown. An air duct 44 including a fan within it, is associated with the condenser and this duct discharges from a grill-covered opening 45 in the left sidewall 21 of the counter.
It .was discovered that a or %-horsepower refrigerator could be used for the display case D when it is proportioned as heretofore described, that is, as a case having bins approximately 1 foot wide, 16 inches deep and 5 6 feet long and used for cooling flowers and the like. Thus, the power to drive the system may be provided from any conventional llO-volt electrical wall outlet and an electrical cord 46 is extended from the refrigerator for such connection. This is an obvious advantage over conventional, circulation-type, opentop refrigerating display cases of a comparable size since they require more powerful refrigerators which, in turn, require special wiring outlets that would be inconvenient to install at many of the locations where the display case can be used.
The refrigeration lines 43 extend from the compressor and condenser to coils 47 in selected'walls of the bins. Preferably, a coil 47a is located in the back wall 34 of the upper bin30. A coil 47b is located in the intermediate wall 36 36 and a coil 470 is located in the front wall 39 of the lower bin 32. These coils are connected to the lines 43 in any conventional. manner, preferably in series with the coil 47a being the first in line, the coil 47b being next in sequence and the coil 47c being last and being connected with the return refrigeration lines 43.
The manner in which the bins are constructed facilitates the installation of these coils because each bin has an inner lining 48 of sheet metal or like material whereto the coils may be affixed as by solder or otherwise. Accordingly, this inner liner will be quickly cooled by the flow of heat from the liner to' the coils. The bins also include an insulation layer 49 beneath the liners to prevent heat flow from the exterior of the bins to the coil which would result in inefficient operation of the unit.
FIG. 3 illustrates a typical mode of constructing the walls to provide the inner metal lining 48 and the insulating layer 49 beneath the lining. The insulating layer 49 is preferably a closed-pore, polystyrene foam or polyurethane foam several inches thick. Such foam may be foamed in place about thelining after the bins are formed and the refrigeration coils are installed upon the lining. Preferably, however, the insulation is provided as layers of the desired size thickness for the several sections of the bins. The layers are prepared by cutting or pressing suitable slots 50 to receive the coils 48. Once fitted,'the insulating layer is then affixed to the lining as with a glue or mastic. As illustrated at FIG. 3, the outer surface of the insulating layer of the front wall 39 will rest against and be reinforced by the front wall of the counter. Other walls and reinforcing members are provided to hold the insulation and the bins in place such as the struts 51 shown at F IG. 2. To complete forming the bins, cap strips 52 may be used to close the ends of the insulation layers 48 at the rims 31 and 33.
To complete the refrigerated display case, transparent shields are extended about the bins to better retain the cold air generated within the bins. A side shield 53 is mounted at each side of the display case D to upstand from the sides 21 and 22, and these shields are step-formed to set upon the edge rims 31 and 33 of the bins. Each side shield extends upwardly from the edge rims to a level which is preferably the same as the level of the top 25. A transparent front shield 54 is extended across the front of the counter to upstand above the front wall 20. This front shield sets upon the front reach of the lower rim 33 and does not need to extend upwardly as high as the side shields 52, but preferably it will extend to a height about the same as the height of the upper bin rim 31. Accordingly, to provide a neat appearing unit, the upper edge corners 55 of the side shields 53, adjacent to the front shield, are rounded to turn the upper edge downwardly to terminate at the same level as that of the front shield. These shields are preferably of a transparent plastic material, for example an acrylic, such as Plexiglas. The shields are held by small posts 56 upstanding from the corners and from the center of the lower bin rim 33.
The operation of the unit is manifest from the forego' ing description. When the refrigeration machinery is turned on, the walls of the bins and 32 are cooled and this cooling action is accompanied by a slow flow of cool air from, the upper bin over the intermediate wall 36 36 and into the lower bin. The cool air generated on the upper portion of the back wall of the upper refrigerator bin 30 will initiate the forward movement of cold air to effectively cool flowers placed in the upper bin where the flowers are above the level of the rim 31. The cold air then flows over the rim 31, since it is retained at each side by the side shields 53, to drop into the lower bin 32 and in dropping into this lower bin, the cool air will cascade upon the flowers placed therein as in the manner suggested by the arrows at FIG. 4. When the cool air has filled the bins, it will form above the bin level to a level somewhat above the top of the front shield 54 before spilling out of the display case D. The thermostat T, however, which is positioned at a level somewhat above the rim 3], as at the back wall 34, will prevent the refrigerating apparatus from operating whenever the bin is filled with cold air to a selected temperature within the desired range. Whenever the bed of cold air within and above the bins is disturbed as by a breeze, or by a person removing a bouquet from a bin, the air will flow forwardly in the display case to expose the thermostat T to warmer air and'the refrigerating apparatus will then tion contemplates a plurality of refrigerated bins and FIG. 5 exemplifies this in a somewhat diagrammatic manner: a refrigerated display case D in a counter C which is formed in front of a counter top 25' by providing bins 60, 61 and 62 in a sequence with the bin being below the counter top 25, the bin 61 being below the bin 60 and the bin 62 being below the bin 61 to complete the display case D. The outer wall of the bin 62 is then at the front wall 20' of the counter 0'. Aside from using three bins, the several components forming the display case D are identical to the components heretofore described.
I have now described my invention in considerable detail. However, it is obvious that others skilled in the art can build and devise alternate and equivalent constructions which are nevertheless within the spirit and scope of my invention. Hence, I desire that my protection be limited, not by the constructions illustrated and described, but only by the proper scope of the appended claims.
l. A stepped, refrigerated display case comprising:
A. at least two open bins separated by an intermediate wall, with each bin being generally rectangular in plan, each with a front wall, a back wall, end walls and a bottom, said bins being arranged one in front of the other, with the front bin being below the rear bin and with the front wall of each bin defining the rim of the bin;
. said intermediate wall forms the front wall of the rear bin and back wall of the front bin whereby said intermediate wall extends upwardly from the rim level of the lower front bin to the rim level of the upper, rear bin;
c. the back wall of said rear bin extends upwardly from the rim level of the upper rear bin; and,
. a refrigerating means in at least the back wall of at least the rear bin to cool air within the bin and to coolair at the back wall thereof above the rim level of the rear bin, whereby to permit cooled air played in this lower bin and to flow into the lower.
2. In the organization defined in claim 1, including:
shield means upstanding from each end wall of the upper bin to guide cooled air formed therein over the rim of the intermediate wall and into the lower bin.
3. In the organization defined in claim 2, wherein each shield means upstands from end walls of both the upper and lower bins.
4. In the organization defined in claim 3, including:
a shield means upstanding from the rim of the front wall of the lower front bin and having its top edge at approximately the level of the rim of the intermediate wall at the upper rear bin.
5. In the organization defined in claim 4, wherein said shield means is transparent.
6. In the organization defined in claim 1, wherein the refrigerating means includes coils extending in the back wall of the upper bin, in the intermediate wall and in the front wall of the lower bin.
7. In the organization defined in claim 1, including a counter, and wherein said display case is incorporated into the front section of a counter and with a counter top above and behind the rear wall of the rear bin.