How to succeed in business without really opening: NuPenny on East Douglas is the ultimate in window shopping

UPDATED –┬áMost people understand that one of the first steps to succeeding in business is to open a business.

That’s not Randy Regier’s approach.

But then, he’s not just a business owner. First — and foremost — he’s an artist.

He’d love for you to drop by his new NuPenny Toy Store, which he put the finishing touches on just after midnight on Tuesday after “way too many trips to Lowe’s.”

It’s at 1714 E. Douglas, which is two doors down from the Donut Whole and just across from Tanya’s Soup Kitchen.

Part nostalgic, part futuristic, the brightly lit shop full of shiny silver toys beckons passers-by to stop in, but they can’t.

“It’s like a ‘Twilight Zone‘ episode in a toy store that no one ever goes in and no one shows up,” Regier says.

He could go into great lengths, he says, about what it all means. That would spoil the fun, though.

Regier’s thought is “the idea of discovering something.” It’s an experience, and one that he doesn’t want to prejudice.

“It’s not so much not wanting to talk about it,” he says. Talking, though, “can take all the mystery from it.”

“It can be sort of mythical and mystical and bizarre and weird.”

The toys are made from things such as old toasters and Electrolux vacuum parts.

A London writer who wrote of Regier’s work examined it for his ability to create desire. Shoppers may want to come in, but can’t.

There’s no use advising Regier on another business model.

“I have business friends who have tried that,” he says. “I’ll just say they’ve given up on me.

“My business model is, ‘Good luck with that.’ ”

The toys are for sale, but only as a collected work. Regier has other toys and art for sale as well at www.randyregier.com.

NuPenny is named after a copper penny’s newness. Regier originally planned to produce the toys in a metallic copper. Even pennies aren’t made of strictly copper anymore, though, Regier says, and he notes that they’re worth less than it costs to make them.

It’s “the nature of something that is appealing and beautiful and of little or no value.”

The Omaha native grew up in Oregon and had a brief but particularly meaningful stay in Newton when he was young.

In his 30s, Regier made time for college at Kansas State.

“I went to get a degree in not going back to the body shop.”

He was an art major with a special interest in toys. Regier went on to get a Master of Fine Arts degree in Maine, where he also taught.

That’s where this NuPenny installation has already appeared for three other shows.

In November, it will move to Chicago.

“It will be not open in Chicago for Christmas.”

Regier and his family will stay in Wichita, though. Their new home and his studio are behind NuPenny.

“It’d be nice if we were a little closer to the Donut Whole,” he says. “But it’s not a bad walk.”

He’s being facetious, of course, because actually he could throw a doughnut and hit the business, but that’s not quite close enough.

“He keeps wanting one of those vacuum tubes,” his wife, Vicki, says of shooting Donut delights straight to him.

Regier and his family are just as curious about the people stopping by his installation as those people are of seeing it.

As one couple peered in Tuesday evening, Regier and his family unobtrusively peered back.

“I’m more interested in what you think it’s about than what I think it’s about,” he says.

He’s not interested in business advice, however.

“It’s not that I’m not a good businessman,” Regier says. “If it were about selling it, it wouldn’t be locked up in Wichita. It would be in New York.”

Regier happens to have a separate art show coming up this fall in New York. His day job — for now — is preparing for it.

There also will be a Wichita NuPenny show of sorts.

“In about two months we’re going to do a non-opening.”

Don’t quite get that? Not sure what NuPenny is all about? That’s just fine with the fiercely independent Regier.

“Art for me is about freedom. It’s the most freedom I’ve ever had in my life.”