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Appliance salesman celebrates holidays with cedar-made reindeer

By Melissa Crowe
Dec. 22, 2013 at 6:22 a.m.

Bruce Miller's handcrafted cedar reindeer rest on the countertop at Miller Appliance.

Repairman and artist may not be synonymous, but for Bruce Miller, the two go hand in hand.

Miller, who owns Miller Appliance, spends most of his days repairing and selling appliances. In his family, he's the go-to guy to solve any problem or get anything to work.

But in his free time, his creativity flourishes, breathing new life into dead motors and busted components.

"I just dream it up and do it," Miller, 61, said. "I'm a dreamer. I make all kinds of stuff."

He has mastered the cedar reindeer, made from tree trimmings around his house.

"I make them and give them away to family and friends," he said. "I just have fun doing it."

His daughter, Theresa Renteria, 44, works at the shop alongside him.

"They're special because my dad made them," she said.

She has a collection of small ones for her home.

More than drilling holes and installing screws, the projects allow him to use his imagination.

Reindeer of all sizes, with red noses and pink ones, antlers and ears, line the countertop around the cash register at the store.

His latest project is truly the one that shines - a Rudolph with a solar-powered nose.

His vision for the project came from a motor, which serves as the reindeer's torso.

"The motor was bad. It had froze up, but instead of throwing it away, I just made a project out of it," Miller said.

He has shocks for legs, temperature sensors for ears and springs for antlers.

Outside the holidays, he turns copper tubing into custom wind chimes, planks into cutting boards and birdhouses and has even turned a freezer into a sausage smoker.

Still, it is his reindeer that get the most attention.

"They just make people happy," he said.

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