John Kelly’s Washingtonians: 1. Lee Schlorb

July 9, 2013
Lee Schlorb creates window displays for liquor stores. (By John Kelly, The Washington Post)
Lee Schlorb creates window displays for liquor stores. (By John Kelly, The Washington Post)

Lee Schlorb sometimes travels around Washington with a little Jack Daniel’s.

Please understand that this is not a little flask filled with the Tennessee whiskey, but a two-and-a-half-foot-tall white plastic statue of the founder of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. It’s Lee’s job to decorate the front windows of D.C.-area liquor stores.

I found Lee one morning with a little Jack statue, three big display bottles of Jack, two regular-sized bottles, three Jack-centric foam hands, two wooden crates and a big poster touting the pleasures of Jack Daniel’s honey liqueur. These were the ingredients for a new window display at Press Liquors at 14th and F streets NW.  Lee works for Washington Wholesale, a liquor distributor. For three years he’s been creating window displays. The whiskey gear was meant to replace a Hennessy display that has been in the window of Press Liquors for a year. Lee created that one, too, a classy assemblage of cognac bottles, faux grapes and shiny black drapery. It’s one of his favorites.

“Everything flows together,” he said by way of explanation. “All the black. The silver backdrop. At night time the lights come on and reflect. I have all my greenery, my grapes. I have glasses, different-size bottles.

“The retailer, he really liked that Hennessy window.”

It turned out he liked it so much that he wanted to keep it up. Lee loaded the Jack statue and all the trimmings back into the van.

Lee, 26, lives in Suitland. He studied art in school and says a photographic memory is key to his job. “I can put stuff together in my head,” he said.

He snaps a photo of every display with his smart phone: Don Julio, Tanqueray, Tito’s Handmade Vodka… He showed me a massive tableau, with dozens of bottles stretching across several windows. “Multi-brand,” he said.

“I prefer smaller windows,” Lee said. “It’s easier to get symmetry, everything nice and even.”

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section.
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