Title:
Merchandise display case featuring open sub-frame and interchangeable panels
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A merchandise display case having an open sub-frame or exo-skeleton and one ore more interchangeable side panels is provided. The display case includes a lower base section and an upper display section. The base section includes a skeletal sub-frame. One or more interchangeable wall panels are releasably attached to the sub-frame.



Inventors:
O'neill, Brian (Fort Myers, FL, US)
Pound, Dennis (Fort Myers, FL, US)
Application Number:
09/752205
Publication Date:
07/04/2002
Filing Date:
12/29/2000
Assignee:
O'NEILL BRIAN
POUND DENNIS
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
312/114
International Classes:
A47F3/00; (IPC1-7): A47F3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William E. Noonan (Fort Myers, FL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A merchandise display case comprising: a lower base section; and an upper display section mounted on said base section and being at least partly transparent; said base section including a skeletal sub-frame and at least one vertical wall panel that is releasably attached to said skeletal sub-frame.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 in which said skeletal sub-frame has a configuration generally defining a rectangular parallelepiped.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 in which said sub-frame includes an upper frame portion having an interconnected plurality horizontal frame pieces, a lower frame portion having a second interconnected plurality of horizontal frame pieces, and a plurality of generally vertical frame pieces interconnecting said upper and lower frame portions and further defining forward and rearward frame portions and a pair of side frame portions.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 in which a respective wall panel is releasably attachable to each of said forward and side frame portions.

5. The apparatus of claim 3 in which said lower frame portion including generally parallel horizontal front and back pieces and a pair of generally parallel and horizontal transverse support pieces that interconnect said front and back pieces.

6. The apparatus of claim 5 in which at least one of said front and back pieces includes a gap between said transverse support pieces.

7. The apparatus of claim 5 in which a floor panel is connected to said lower frame portion above said support pieces.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 in which said base encloses a plurality of drawers that are operably mounted within said base and selectively opened and closed through said rearward portion of said sub-frame.

9. The apparatus of claim 5 in which said base encloses a merchandise lift mechanism that is disposed at least partly between and at least partly supported by said transverse support pieces.

10. The apparatus of claim 2 further including an intermediate vertical panel mounted in said base section and extending between said forward and rearward frame portions.

11. The apparatus of claim 3 further including a skeletal kick plate sub-frame that depends from said lower frame portion and at least one kick plate releasably attached to said kick plate sub-frame.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 in which said kick plate sub-frame includes a forward component depending from said lower frame portion proximate said forward frame portion and a rearward component depending from said lower frame section proximate said rearward frame portion.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 in which said kick plate sub-frame carries a plurality of feet for engaging a floor or other supporting surface.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 in which said feet are adjustable relative to said kick plate frame to selectively adjust the height of the case relative to the floor or other supporting surface.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to a merchandise display case and more particularly, to a display case that features an open sub-frame or exo-skeleton and one or more interchangeable panels mounted to the sub-frame.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Merchandise display cases are widely used in department stores and other retail establishments. Most display cases employ an upper glass or plastic enclosure in which merchandise is displayed and a lower base that accommodates, drawers, shelves or other storage facilities. See, for example, our U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,733,021 and 5,791,749. Traditionally, the base comprises walls or panels composed of wood, fiberboard or similar material. These types of display cases exhibit a number of problems. Oftentimes holes must be formed in the base to accommodate electrical wiring, telephone lines and other types of utilities. It is virtually impossible to pre-install these holes properly at the factory because the retail establishment customer usually has its own unique wiring configuration and outlet placement. As a result, the proper openings usually cannot be made until the case is installed. Additionally, it tends to be difficult for the installers to work within the previously constructed display unit. Running wiring through the base is often awkward and cramped. All of this adds considerably to the time and expense required to properly install the display case.

[0003] Establishments purchasing merchandise displays cases also have difficulty in many cases quickly and successfully matching the aesthetics of the case they are purchasing with the decor of the establishment in which the case is to be used. If a desired ornamental feature such as color, texture or trim is not in stock or otherwise unavailable, the customer may experience considerable delays while a unit having the desired aesthetics is constructed. Moreover, because the base is fully constructed at the factory, it is virtually impossible to change the aesthetics of the case after it has arrived at the customer's establishment. If is a mistake is made in ordering or a different style is required, the customer must return the entire case and have another one shipped. No display cases are currently available that permit the customer to readily change the color, trim and other decorative aspects of the display case after the case is installed at the customer's business location.

[0004] Standard wood display cases also tend to exhibit unsightly vertical seams between sections of the base. A uniform seamless appearance is much preferred, particularly in upscale establishments wherein the attractiveness of the display case is important.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a merchandise display case employing an open sub-frame or exo-skeletal construction that permits the case to be installed and wired much quicker and more conveniently than has been previously possible.

[0006] It is a further object of this invention to provide a display case that permits the panels of the base to be quickly and conveniently interchanged so that the case can be readily adapted to suit the customer's individual aesthetic needs.

[0007] It is a further object of this invention to provide a display case that is extremely resistant to theft and which securely holds valuable merchandise in a locked and hidden condition within the base of the case.

[0008] It is a further object of this invention to provide a merchandise display case that is particularly difficult for a thief to penetrate.

[0009] It is a further object of this invention to provide a display case that employs an aesthetically attractive appearance and which eliminates unsightly vertical seams from the base of the unit.

[0010] It is a further object of this invention to provide a display case that may be quickly and conveniently adapted to accommodate the electrical and/or utility requirements of each individual customer.

[0011] It is a further object of this invention to provide a display case wherein the base is much more accessible to installers than in previous cases.

[0012] This invention features a merchandise display case having a lower base section and an upper display section mounted above the base and having an exterior wall that is at least partly transparent. The base section includes a generally box-shaped exo-skeleton or sub-frame. The sub-frame includes an elongate upper front piece and an elongate lower front piece that is substantially parallel to the upper front piece. The upper and lower front pieces have generally horizontal orientations. The frame further includes an elongate upper rear piece and a pair of aligned elongate lower rear pieces. The upper and lower pieces are arranged generally parallel to one another and in a horizontal orientation. There is an elongate first upper side piece that interconnects the upper front and rear pieces proximate respective first ends of those pieces. An elongate first lower side piece likewise interconnects the lower front piece and the lower rear piece proximate respective first ends of those pieces. A second upper side piece interconnects the upper front and rear pieces proximate respective second ends of those pieces. A second lower side piece likewise interconnects the lower front and rear pieces proximate their respective second ends. This defines an upper rectangular frame portion and a lower rectangular frame portion. Four elongate vertical pieces interconnect the upper and lower frame portions and, more particularly, each vertical piece extends between a respective corner of the upper frame portion and a corresponding corner of the lower frame portion. This further defines front and rear frame portions and a pair of side frame portions. A generally vertical panel is releasably attached to at least the forward frame portion. As used herein, exo-skeleton refers to a generally open framework to which one or more panels are releasably mounted.

[0013] In a preferred embodiment, respective panels are fastened to each of the side frame portions. The elongate frame pieces may include square metal tubing, metal channels and/or L-angle components. The individual frame pieces may be secured to one another by bolts, screws or other releasable means. Alternatively, the frame pieces may be permanently interconnected by welding or other means.

[0014] A pair of intermediate vertical elements may extend between the upper and lower frame portions. Each intermediate frame element has a generally vertical orientation and is located approximately mid-way between an associated pair of the four vertical elements located at the corners of the frame. Typically, a floor panel is connected to the lower frame portion. The base may enclose various components such as one or more drawer assemblies, cabinets, a merchandise lift, etc. At least one intermediate wall may be mounted within the base and arranged parallel to the side panels. This divides the base into compartments and permits multiple rows of drawers to be formed within the base in a generally side-by-side manner. Drawers are mounted within the base by runners attached to the inside surface of the side panels and (when applicable) the sides of the intermediate wall or walls. Doors or closures may be formed in the lower panel to provide access to the interior of the base.

[0015] Levelizing feet may be carried by the lower frame portion. These feet may be adjusted to set the base and therefore the entire display case at a desired height. The levelizing feet may be threadably or otherwise adjustably mounted within respective tubes that are attached to and depend from the lower frame portion. In certain embodiments, auxiliary panels may be secured to the adjustment tubes for covering an area that accommodates wiring, telephone lines and other utility components.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] Other objects, features and advantages will occur from the following description of a preferred embodiment and the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0017] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a display case according to this invention;

[0018] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one version of the open sub-frame or exo-skeleton used in the display case;

[0019] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the sub-frame of FIG. 2 adapted for mounting drawers therein;

[0020] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the display case base of FIGS. 2 and 3 with drawers mounted within the sub-frame;

[0021] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a representative piece of square tubing that may be used in the frame;

[0022] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a representative L-angle component that may be used in the frame;

[0023] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a representative piece of rectangular tube having a longitudinal slot for use in the display case frame; and

[0024] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternative preferred skeletal sub-frame or exo-skeleton according to this invention;

[0025] FIG. 9 is an elevational rearward view of the skeletal sub-frame of FIG. 8; a lift, depicted in phantom, is mounted within the sub-frame;

[0026] FIG. 10 is an elevational side view of the sub-frame of FIGS. 8 and 9;

[0027] FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the sub-frame of FIGS. 8-10;

[0028] FIG. 12 is a cross sectional view taken along line 12-12 of FIG. 9;

[0029] FIG. 13 is a cross sectional view taken along line 13-13 of FIG. 9; and

[0030] FIG. 14 is a perspective, partly exploded view of the base section of a display case employing the skeletal sub-frame shown in FIGS. 8-13.

[0031] This is shown in FIG. 1 a display case of the type used for exhibiting merchandise at a department store or other retail establishment. Case 10 includes a lower base 12 and an upper display section 14. Upper section 14 features conventional display case construction and includes one or more transparent walls. Normally, at the very least, the front wall 11 (which faces the customer) and the upper wall 16 are transparent. The remaining walls of upper section 14 may be either fully transparent or interiorily lined with mirrors or an opaque material, as desired. Appropriate lamps 18 may be mounted within the display section. A hinged door 20 provides access to the interior of the upper section of the display case. The door is lifted and lowered by means a bar or handle 22. In alternative embodiments, one or more sliding doors may be provided in the rear wall of upper section 14. The remaining details of the upper section should be well known to those skilled in the art of display cases and do not comprise a part of this invention.

[0032] Lower base 12 comprises an open sub-frame or exo-skeleton 24 that is shown more clearly in FIGS. 2 through 4. Sub-frame 24 features a generally rectangular parallelepiped or box-like configuration and, more particularly, includes a skeletal construction comprising a plurality of elongate interconnected metal pieces. There are an upper and lower pair of horizontal front frame pieces 26 and 28, that are arranged generally parallel to one another. A similar upper and lower pair of horizontal rear frame pieces 30 and 32 are likewise arranged parallel to one another and to front pieces 26 and 28. A first upper side piece 34 interconnects one end of piece 26 and a corresponding end of piece 30. A first lower side piece 36 likewise interconnects one end of piece 28 and a corresponding end of piece 32. A second upper side piece 38 interconnects the opposite end of piece 26 and the corresponding end of piece 30. Finally, a second lower side piece 40 joins the second end of piece 28 and the corresponding end of piece 32. As best shown in FIG. 2, interconnected pieces 26, 30, 34 and 38 define a rectangular upper frame portion 42 and interconnected lower pieces 28, 32, 36 and 40 define a rectangular lower frame portion 44.

[0033] Four vertical frame pieces 46, 48, 50 and 52 interconnect upper and lower frame portions 42 and 44. More particularly, each vertical frame piece interconnects a respective corner of upper frame portion 42 with a corresponding corner of lower frame portion 44. This completes the rectangular solid configuration depicted in FIG. 2. Elongate pieces 26, 28, 46 and 52 thereby define a rectangular forward frame portion 60; and pieces 30, 32, 48 and 50 define a rearward rectangular frame portion 62. Pieces 34, 36, 46 and 48 define a rectangular first side frame portion 64; and pieces 38, 40, 50 and 52 define a rectangular second side frame portion 66. A triangular reinforcing element 68 is formed in each corner of side frame portions 64 and 66.

[0034] An optional intermediate vertical frame piece 55, FIG. 3, interconnects rearward frame pieces 30 and 32 approximately mid-way between the respective ends of those pieces. Vertical frame piece 55 allows an intermediate panel and two rows of drawers to be mounted within the base in a manner that is described more fully below.

[0035] The elongate sub-frame components of this invention typically comprise one or more of the configurations shown in FIGS. 5 through 7. For example, as shown in FIG. 5, square metal tubing 70 having longitudinally spaced apart holes 72 may be employed. These holes permit exterior panels to be attached to the frame, as described below. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 6, an L-shaped elongate angle piece 74 may form one or more of the frame elements. Once again, panel attachment openings 76, which may have various sizes, shapes and positions may be formed in the angle element. As shown in FIG. 7, a piece of square or rectangular tubing 78 may include a longitudinal channel or slot 80 that permits panels or wall components to be attached to the channel. Assorted other types of elongate frame components may be employed. Typically, these sub-frame components will be metallic, although durable synthetic materials may also be used. The elongate pieces are interconnected to one another in a manner that will be known to persons skilled in the art. For example, they may be welded, bolted, riveted or otherwise attached such that a strong rigid skeletal sub-frame is achieved.

[0036] As shown in FIG. 1, base 12 may include an optional lower kick plate supporting section 80. Four square tubing elements (FIGS. 2-4) depend from the lower frame portion 62 and more particularly, from respective corners thereof. A standard levelizing foot 90 is threadably and adjustably interengaged within each of the square tubing elements 82-88. The levelizing feet are operated in a manner that will be known to those skilled in the art so that the display case may be leveled as required when it is installed in the customer's establishment.

[0037] Display case 10 is constructed by first assembling sub-frame 24 in the manner shown in FIG. 2. After the frame components are welded or otherwise permanently joined together, the base may be completed to address the individual customer's needs. In the version shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, drawers 94 are provided for accommodating merchandise while it is not being displayed. Previously described piece 55 is interconnected between pieces 30 and 32. A floor panel 96 is installed into base 12 such that is supported by lower frame portion 62. In certain versions, the lower frame portion may be formed by a plurality of interconnected L-angle elements 74, shown in FIG. 6. In that case, the floor panel may be supported by the horizontal leg of each element 74. Bolts, screws or rivets may be interconnected at appropriate locations. In FIG. 3, floor panel 96 is provided with a pair of doors or closures 98 that provide access into the interior of base 12.

[0038] Side panels 100 and 102 are permanently or releasably attached to the outsides of side frame portions 64 and 66 respectively. Once again, attachment can be made by rivets, bolts or other suitable means. In the drawer version disclosed herein, standard runners 104 are mounted to the inside surface of each of the side wall panels 100 and 102 in the manner best shown in FIG. 3.

[0039] A front wall or panel 110, FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, is releasably mounted to front frame portion 60. As shown in FIG. 1, front panel 110 may include attachment holes 112 that are formed at appropriate locations in the panel. These holes are aligned with the corresponding holes or slots (e.g. 72, 74, 80) in pieces 26, 28, 46 and 52 of front frame portion 60. Suitable means of attachment such as bolts, screws or rivets are engaged with the aligned openings to secure the panel to the sub-frame. It is important that this means of attachment be releasable so that at the very least the front panel can be freely interchanged. This permits the purchaser to employ a selected color, trim or texture for the front panel, which complements the aesthetics or decor of the establishment in which the case will be used. The removable panel also provides ready access into the interior of the base so that installation is facilitated.

[0040] An intermediate panel 120, FIGS. 3 and 4, is mounted between piece 55 and forward frame portion 60. Intermediate panel 120 may be secured to the sub-frame components by any suitable means. Each side of panel 120 carries a plurality of runners 122 corresponding in number and height to the runners carried by the inside surface of the facing side wall panel. As a result, in the version shown herein, two drawer compartments 130 and 132, FIG. 3, are formed. Each drawer compartment has three pairs of generally parallel runners formed on one side of the intermediate panel 120 and a respective one of the side panels 100, 102 facing that side. Each pair of parallel runners supports one of the drawers 94, shown in FIG. 4.

[0041] As best shown in FIG. 1, lower base portion 80 includes a plurality of lower kick plate panels 140 and 142 (as well as two additional panels that are obscured). Each such lower panel is interconnected to an adjacent pair of the square tubing elements 82, 84, 86 and 88. At least one of the front panel 140 and the opposite rear panel (not shown) is releasably mounted so that access may be provided to the lower portion of the base. This facilitates the installation of utility lines, such as electrical wiring, telephone lines, etc., into and through the base of the display case. Installation of those lines and access to the interior is also facilitated through the removable front panel 110, as previously described. The lower panels may be attached to the square tubing components 82-86 in a manner analogous to that previously described for the other panels of the base.

[0042] It should be understood that in alternative versions of this invention, various other components and mechanisms may be supported within the base. These may include, for example, a lift mechanism as disclosed in our previously referenced patents. The base may also enclose shelves or other features. The rearward portion of the frame may support a solid panel (which may be either releasably or permanently attached), a sliding, folding, collapsible or retractable door or other structure. After construction of the base is completed, the upper display section 16 is mounted to the top of the base, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. This may be done in any manner which holds the upper display sections securely in place upon the base.

[0043] The wall panels may be composed of various materials, including woods, metals, metal alloys, and plastic or synthetic materials. Preferably, the panels exhibit a rugged and theft resistant construction. It is particularly desirable to use a single panel across the front portion of the frame, as exhibited by panel 110 in FIG. 1. This provides a seamless and aesthetically pleasing appearance that helps to make the display case more attractive and appealing to the retail customers of the establishment using the display case.

[0044] Accordingly, display case 10 provides workmen with quick and convenient access to the interior of the base of the case so that electrical wires, telephone lines and other utilities may be quickly and conveniently connected. This facilitates the installation of the case considerably. Holes do not have to be custom made into the case at the factory in order to suit each individual customer's needs. Rather, those needs can be addressed conveniently at the customer's place of business. Moreover, the customer can order any desired color, trim or other aesthetic feature. Because the product employs interchangeable wall panels, the case and the selected panel can be shipped promptly and without undue delays normally required when a particular aesthetic feature is not in stock.

[0045] An alternative exo-skeleton or skeletal sub-frame 210 is shown in FIG. 8. As in the previous embodiment, the sub-frame has a configuration that generally comprises a rectangular parallel parallelepiped. In particular, as further illustrated in FIGS. 9-14, sub-frame 210 includes an upper, rectangular frame portion 212 that is composed of horizontally oriented pieces 214, 216, 218 and 220. The pieces of sub-frame 210 preferably comprise elongate angle elements, channels, tubing or other pieces as previously described, which are welded or otherwise interconnected in an end-to-end manner. Sub-frame 210 further includes a lower frame portion 222 comprising a horizontally oriented forward piece 224 and an aligned pair of rearward pieces 226 and 228 that are parallel to forward piece 224. A lower side piece 230 interconnects pieces 226 and 224. A second lower side piece 232 similarly interconnects pieces 228 with the opposite end of piece 224. Pieces 226 and 228 are separated by a gap G. A pair of transverse support pieces 240 and 242 interconnect respective inner ends of pieces 226 and 228 to an intermediate region of forward piece 224.

[0046] A plurality of pieces 250, 252, 254 and 256 interconnect upper and lower frame portions 212 and 222 at respective corners of the base. This interconnection may be made by welding or some other permanent means, or alternatively by releasable connector means. Once again, pieces 250, 252, 254 and 256 may comprise square tubing, L-shaped angles or similar elongate sub-frame components. Preferably metal elements are employed so that the frame is durable and provides a long service life.

[0047] When the upper and lower frame portions 212 and 222 are interconnected, the sub-frame 212 also exhibits a forward frame portion 260, a rearward frame portion 262 and side frame portions 264 and 266. Each of the frame portions has a substantially rectangular peripheral configuration.

[0048] A lower kick plate sub-frame 270 depends from lower frame portion 222. Specifically, kick plate sub-frame 270 includes a forward portion 272 and a rearward portion 274. Forward portion 272 is defined by square tubing elements 276 and 278, which depend from pieces 230 and 232 respectively. The forward portion 272 also includes an elongate piece 280 that interconnects depending elements 276 and 278. A pair of vertical pieces 282 and 284 interconnect transverse support pieces 240 and 242 respectively with piece 280. As with the other forms of interconnection disclosed herein, welding is the preferred manner of joining the respective sub-frame elements.

[0049] Rearward portion 274 includes a depending tube 290 that is attached to horizontal piece 230 proximate the rearward end thereof. The lower end of tubing 290 is secured to a horizontal element 292, which extends longitudinally inwardly relative to the sub-frame. The opposite end of element 292 is secured to a vertical tubing element 300, which depends from transverse support piece 240.

[0050] Rearward kick plate frame portion 274 also includes a similar structure proximate the opposite side of the sub-frame. Specifically, tubing 302 depends from frame piece 232. A horizontal piece 304 is interconnected at one end to depending tube 302. The opposite end of element 304 is interconnected by a depending piece 306 to support piece 242. Elements 292 and 304 are themselves joined by a relatively flat strip 310.

[0051] The four depending pieces of square tubing 274, 276, 278 and 302 define feet proximate respective corners of the sub-frame. As previously described, each of these components carries a levelizing foot that is threadably or otherwise adjustably interengaged within the square tubing. This permits the sub-frame to be levelized as previously described. It should be understood that additional feet may be mounted at various locations of the kick plate sub-frame.

[0052] The transverse support pieces 240 and 242 serve a number of purposes. In versions of the case wherein the base serves to accommodate drawers or as a storage compartment, the support pieces 240 and 242 operate to provide enhanced support to the flooring that is typically mounted with the sub-frame. For example, flooring may be installed by fitting a piece of wood or plastic within the space defined by lower frame portion 222. The edges of the floor are conformably received by the interconnected angle pieces of the frame portion. In other versions, the floor may be bolted, screwed or attached by other various means to the lower frame portion (which again may comprise square tubing, L-shaped angles or a variety of other forms of elongate pieces). In any event, the flooring mounted within the lower frame portion is supported by the underlying pieces 240 and 242 such that sagging or bowing of the floor is prevented.

[0053] In other embodiments, pieces 240 and 242 accommodate a lip. For example, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 and as previously described, a lift mechanism (such as shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,733,021 and 5,791,749) may be mounted conveniently within the sub-frame. The motor M of lift L is typically received within gap G between pieces 240 and 242. The transverse support pieces, which are themselves supported by elements 300, 282, 284 and 306, serve to provide reinforcing support for the lip. The spaced apart support pieces also prevent the lift from shifting as the lip platform is raised and lowered within the display case.

[0054] As previously described, sub-frame 210 allows a variety of accessories such as electrical wiring, telephones and other types of utilities to be mounted conveniently and accessibly within the base. For example, as shown in FIG. 13 a ballast box 310 may be positioned within and mounted to the kick plate sub-frame 370. Electrical outlets such as J-boxes 312 and 314 may be likewise mounted at various locations in either the forward or rearward kick plate sub-frame portions.

[0055] As previously described, the sub-frame is initially constructed (typically by welding or other permanent means) to meet the particular customer's requirements. The fully constructed sub-frame is then delivered to the customer where the exterior and interior of the base are completed in accordance with the customer's needs. The interior of the frame may be equipped with a lift, drawers or simply function as a storage cabinet. Walls and doors may be conveniently mounted to the exterior of sub-frame 210 as shown in FIG. 14. Specifically, a forward wall panel 400 and a front kick plate 402 are mounted to forward frame portion 260 and forward kick plate sub-frame portion 272, respectively. Releasable interconnection is made by bolts, screws or other appropriate means previously described. Side wall panels 404 and 406 are releasably mounted to respective side portions 264 and 266 of sub-frame 210 in a similar manner. A door panel 408 is secured to rearward frame portion 262 by appropriate means such as hinges. As previously indicated, various types of sliding or hinged doors may be mounted on the rearward side of the sub-frame. Alternatively, drawers or other structure may be mounted through an opening in the rearward side of the sub-frame.

[0056] Either before or after the wall panels and doors are installed, the various types of utility lines may be installed through the kick plate sub-frame 270. Upon completion of the base, an upper display portion section, previously described, is mounted to the top of the base. Assorted varieties of partitions may be installed between the base and the upper display section in a known manner.

[0057] As in the preceding embodiment, sub-frame 210 provides significant advantages. A number of sub-frames may be interconnected end-to-end so that an extended, yet seamless and aesthetically pleasing merchandise case is achieved. The panels may be quickly and conveniently removed and replaced when required. In addition, the sub-frame permits telephone lines, electrical wires and other utilities to be quickly and conveniently connected when the case is being installed and accessed when maintenance is required. Openings do not have to be pre-formed in the factory. The individual customer's needs can be addressed much more conveniently at the customer's business location. The remaining advantages described in connection with the initially described embodiment apply equally to the second preferred embodiment described herein.

[0058] From the foregoing it may be seen that the apparatus of this invention provides for merchandise display case. While this detailed description has set forth particularly preferred embodiments of the apparatus of this invention, numerous modifications and variations of the structure of this invention, all within the scope of the invention, will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is understood that this description is illustrative only of the principles of the invention and is not limitative thereof.

[0059] Although specific features of the invention are shown in some of the drawings and not others, this is for convenience only, as each feature may be combined with any and all of the other features in accordance with this invention.

[0060] Other embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art and are within the following claims: