Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

This morning I get keys to the new place! That's one of those "milestones" for this project about as important as signing the lease.

I'm meeting with my landlords contractor to see if any of our demo and construction work can be combined to save a little money. I've got a contractor already that I'm happy with, but it doesn't hurt to talk and compare prices.

The thorn in my project's side right now is the exterior sign. When I moved into my current place, there was a sign box already there. The expense for making and installing my new plastic sign was about $700. This new place has absolutely nothing on the front. A sign box is what I was planning, which turns out to cost me an additional $1000 ($1700 total). I was told yesterday that it's unlikely to get approved by the owners because it doesn't match the style of everyone else's sign. The alternative is channel letters (about $2700). We may be able to save money with channel letters on a raceway.

A sign box is easy and cheap. You wire up this big box in one place. Install some really long fluorescent bulbs, and slide in a long plastic sign.

Channel letters are complicated and expensive. You hand make every letter. Each letter is installed directly to the front of the building in two places and is individually wired.

Channel letters with a racetrack is a possible compromise. You install the racetrack on the building and wire it for electricity and then attach the channel letters to the racetrack. The labor is less but the parts are more expensive.
Costs for purchasing a raceway sign are going to be higher than separate letters. All of the electrical components including transformers are pre-wired inside the rectangular, aluminum box that sets behind the attached letters. On the plus side, a raceway mounted set of letters is much easier and cost efficient to install. All that is needed to mount to the wall is the race way itself with one set of wiring to be connected to the main circuit. While the same size separate lettering will cost less to purchase, the steps for proper installation can take much longer to complete. Each letter has to be individually mounted on the wall and each letter has to be
wired in a series connection.
Here are the various sign types:

Our current "light box" sign. Crude, but effective.

Here's an example of channel letters

Channel letter sign with raceway



    Or the Halo Lit sign..

  2. Hmm, and LED would be cheaper to operate.

  3. I think I'd vote for the halo lit if it's no more expensive and is ok with the landlord.

  4. I've got my sign guy looking at both channel letters and channel that's halo lit. He knows about it and he's working up a quote. He's saying halo is a bit more expensive. Do you guys think it's significantly better?

    Both types are using LED, he tells me.

  5. If your customers can't find you, they're not going to enter the store.

    Signage should accomplish two things:

    Catch customer's eye.
    Explain what the biz sells.

    Halo lit works well in locations where ambient light is low (and the building facia is reflective or light colored.)

    Your signage should be be sure to run all the way up to the allowable size, and foot candles of light output permitted by the local codes. BE SEEN.

    Be sure to get one of those annoying blinky blinky open signs.

  6. BTW, Signage is the first thing that customers use to create an opinion of your store.

    Go cheap, and you earn all things associated with that mental image.