Category Archives: Retail

Trouble shooting that problematic window neon sign

neon-blog-post

So, your neon sign doesn’t appear to be broken, but has started flickering or just won’t come on at all. Don’t panic… try these steps first.

If the sign illuminates but a tube FLICKERs:

Pull the “on/off” pull-chain (on the power supply) …pull quickly on and off two or three times ending with it off …then wait for 1 minute. Turn it on again and the problem should go away within a few minutes (if this fix is going to work at all). Repeat this ON/OFF procedure a couple of times if needed. If it is a new sign and it still flickers after trying this “fix”, then leave the sign ON for approximately one week (24 hours a day). Sometimes it takes time for the internal gases to settle.  Also, it may require up to 48 hours to achieve full brightness from the first time a new sign turned on.

If the sign turns on for only a few seconds then turns off:

The neon glass probably has a small hairline crack somewhere which has lets the neon gas out. The sign will need to be repaired by a neon tube bender.

If the sign has DIM letters within a few days of getting the new sign:

The sign needs a little bit more time to light up. Turn the sign on for 24 hours/day and keep it lit at least a week. This should fix the problem.

If the sign will not come on at all, not even for a split second:

Try to plug it into at a different wall outlet that you know is working. If it still doesn’t light up at all, it may be the power adaptor/transformer.
The adaptor/transformer from most manufacturers is warrantied for 1 year, so contact them for a replacement or to purchase a new transformer is it is out of warranty.

If a one year old sign has DIM areas:

Take the sign down, plug it in and turn it on. Hold the sign up over your head facing you. Be very carful not to touch the neon glass as it breaks very easily. Locate the very tiny mercury balls inside of the glass tubing. After you see them, tilt your sign so the tiny balls move to the area of the tubing that is not lighting up. After redistributing the mercury balls, leave the sign on for 20 minutes. If this was the issue, then it will regain its full brightness in the dim areas. If it is older than a few years, it may also need to be re-pumped with neon gas.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Which outdoor sidewalk sign stand is “the best”?

iPhone-Signicade

Asking which outdoor sidewalk sign stand is “the best” is a little like asking a carpenter “which tool is the best”. They’d likely say “it depends on what you’re trying to do”.

Other than print size, there are four main considerations when picking an outdoor sign stand.

  1. What kind of print do I want to use?
  2. How much do I want to spend?
  3. Do I need high Wind Resistance?
  4. Do I need a certain aesthetic?

Print Type:

When users ask “what kind of print can this stand hold” they might be saying they want a stand that holds a paper print because that is a limitation of the large format printer that they have available. Prints can be divided into TWO types.  They are either “thin flexible prints” or “rigid prints”.  Typically “thin flexible prints” are either made with laminated paper (card stock) or 030 styrene. The outdoor sign stands that work with thin flexible prints will almost always have a snap-frame to hold the print. The other type of print is a “rigid print” and signs that hold a “rigid print” will have either a slot to slide your panel into or they may just have a flat surface that you screw your rigid panel onto.  The a-frame signicade (pictured above) is a perfect example of a widely used rigid print sign stand. It is holding a 4mm thick corrugated plastic sign panel. While a person could tape a paper print onto it, that is not its intended use.

Cost:

This is a bit of a loaded question. For example, the signicade is usually about $10 cheaper than the signicade deluxe. So, while the regular signicade looks cheaper at first glance …the regular signicade requires that you come up with a way to attach your sign.  After you buy velcro or “well-nuts” or two sided tape to attach your sign to a regular signicade …you likely could have purchased the signicade deluxe which comes with a quick-change feature to hold your sign panels.  Another example is “snap frame stands”. They can cost two or three times the cost of a signicade, but unlike the signicade ….they hold thin paper prints.  So, if you have the equipment to print on laminated paper real cheap in your print room, then over the long run you’ll pay more for the signicade after you’ve purchased a large number of more expensive rigid prints from a printing company (signicades typically use prints on 4mm corrugated plastic panels).

Wind Resistance:

The stands that don’t hold water and have no springs and don’t swing will have the least resistance to the wind.  One example would be the poly “Quik Sign” stand. It is light weight and a light performer in the wind.  The fancy systems for fighting the wind (like springs) also tend to add a lot to the cost of the stand.  For example, the “wind master” line of stands performs great in the wind but also comes with a higher price tag than most of our other outdoor stands.  All of them are waterproof.

Aesthetics:

This is a very subjective consideration. In most cases you’ll want a neutral aesthetic so that you can switch your graphics around without ever clashing with the sign stand.  The black and white signicade a-frames are probably the most neutral in appearance.  The QLA and sidewalk swinger stands have a noticeably modern look.  The wind master line of stands have a certain cold/sterile/utilitarian appeal and look at home in front of industrial complex or corporate looking franchise. If you need something incredibly warm and rustic, I’d recommend crafting an a-frame stand out of well warn barn boards and a few hinges and a bit of chain.  For a country appeal, no plastic product will match that handmade look.

As always, if you still don’t know what sign stand to order, call Signs Direct for advice ..toll free 877-706-4601

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Successful Business Owners Are Sign Savvy

sidewalk-signThere are two very common complaints that we hear about advertising. The first one is that it can be very expensive and the second one is that it “may or may not” pay off. They’re right. Yes, it can be very expensive to advertise your business or event when using traditional forms of advertising such as radio, tv or print mailers. If the message isn’t that compelling, then the ROI (Return On Investment) can be very low.

Let’s look at one common scenario that we’ve repeatedly encountered with our customers; the customer has just started their first business and they need to promote their services.They’ve had a few sales people stop by with a pitch like “advertise with our radio/TV station and we promise we’ll bring in new business…all you have to do is sign this contact and we will start billing you a thousand dollars each month for the next year”. Tempting…the promise of new business.

However, because of the enormous cost with radio advertising, the business owner seeks the advise of others. They contact a business owner with a well established thriving business and that business associate advises them to try using better signage before they commit $12,000 a year to a limited market demographic. The business associate explains that he spent $250.00 for a couple of A-Frame signs from Signs Direct along with four custom printed sign panels. He put them out in front of his business which gets “average” vehicle traffic. He explains that he found that he starting to get new business right away. He asked his new customers how they heard about his business and most said “we saw your signs and decided to stop” which showed one advantage of “point of purchase” signage.

If a sidewalk “sandwich board” sign costs $200 with custom printed sign panels and it lasts 3 years outdoors, then you’re looking at less than $6 per monthly to advertise to passing traffic right by the location where they can make their purchase. Sidewalk signs really are one of the most economical way to promote your business. So, the business owner seeking advertising advise reaches out to Signs Direct and purchase a few A-Frame signs and some custom signs. They even purchase a few wall mountable snap frames for interior advertising after the Sidewalk signs get the potential customers into their building.

After a few months of increased sales, they conclude that they spent their advertising budget wisely and become regular customers of Signs Direct..

Please visit signsdirect.com for all your sign and advertising needs.

Best Way to Get Store Traffic – Hand Drawn Signs

 

You’re walking down a sidewalk – which is more likely to catch your eye – a sidewalk sign with hand drawn art or a printed “Come on in, we’re open” sign? If you’re like most, the hand drawn art will get you every time. It makes the business feel more human, like the people inside really care and take pride in their store – whether it’s clothing or coffee. This video can show you how to create hand drawn art for your sidewalk signs, even if you aren’t an artist.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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Substrate Cutters Save Time & Money for Sign Shops

Substrate Cutter

Paintings have a canvas. Signs have a substrate. Top-notch sign shops need to be able to safely and efficiently cut through the substrate to cut their signs down to size. To make professional-looking signs, the substrate needs to be cut straight with perfect 90-degree angles. A substrate cutter is the right tool for this job. Substrate cutters also improve efficiency for sign shops by cutting time and saving material lost to bad cuts. Before examining the substrate cutter, take a look at this brief definition of substrates.

What is substrate

A substrate, in terms of printing and sign making, is the base on which graphics are printed. For signs, substrate materials might consist of corrugated plastic, foam board, aluminum sheets and aluminum composites. In general, the thickness of these substrates is limited by the ability of available tools to cut through them.

When it comes to thicknesses, the Fletcher Substrate Cutter can handle aluminum sheeting up to .063″ in thickness with the correct cutting head attached. For this particular substrate cutter, there are heads with blades that can also cut aluminum composites up to 4 mm thick. When it comes to foam board and corrugated plastic, 13 mm is the practical limit for the thickness of those materials, and the Fletcher Substrate Cutter has a specific head for those jobs.

What is a substrate cutter

When creating a sign, the straightness of the edges is important. Quality substrate cutters like the Fletcher will include features like laser sites for setting up the edge along the cutting arm. A substrate cutter resembles an easel, with a beam running vertically along which the blade runs and a beam running horizontal where the substrate sits. Substrates get clamped into the cutter, which prevents movements during cutting. Vertical sliding bladehead make cutting at perfect angles easy. Unlike a panel saw, a good substrate cutters, such as the Fletcher Substrate Cutter, can also cut through a substrate without leaving any debris behind.

For the different substrate materials, there are different interchangeable heads that go on the vertical beam. Cutting metal substrates requires a specific metal-cutting head, while a job cutting foam board and corrugated plastic would require a Fletcher head with a utility knife blade.

How do substrate cutters save time and money

With a substrate cutter, sign shops can be prepared for most any job. Rather than hunting for tools, and figuring out how to cut a substrate, a substrate cutter makes every job easy to set up and complete. This sort of efficiency saves time and money and therefore the equipment quickly pays for itself.

No sense in making measurements and drawing lines, only to hope everything goes OK. After discovering the efficiency a Fletcher brings to your shop, it will quickly become an indispensable tool in your shop. The Fletcher Substrate Cutter can be mounted to the wall, or left free standing. They not only cut down on waste by all but eliminating mistakes, they also provide a much safer method of cutting sign materials.  As a tool specifically designed for the job of cutting substrates, it does so in a way that pretty much makes it impossible for you to cut yourself while cutting substrate. Substrate cutters are simply the fastest, easiest and safest way to cut

How will a substrate cutter enhance your reputation for quality signs?

What better way for a sign shop to build a stronger reputation than by creating signs with perfect edges? There’s something to be said for using the right tool for the job, and when it comes to making signs, a substrate cutter is an essential tool. With a substrate cutter, the margin of error is greatly reduced. A professional sign shop needs professional tools, and a substrate cutter ensures that a professional job gets done every time.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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30 Day Retail Sales Workshop

retail sales tips

Day 1 Retail Sales Tip

Our most important lesson: create a budget, know the detail of what you spend, watch cash flow, and control your inventory. (click to tweet this)

 

 

The Backstory (if you’re interested)

It was 2001 when I opened the doors of Signs Direct. Within a year, retailers dominated our client base. In fact, we sell all kinds of POS and sidewalk signage to help them improve sales. Over the years, I’ve seen, watched, or heard of practically everything someone could do to increase traffic and sales. Some of them worked, some worked really well, and most flat-out failed. I was talking to a customer the other day, and she thought it would be a good idea to share the best of the best retail sales tips I’ve learned. If you’re like me, with very little time, you’ll appreciate that the 30 tips I’m going to share are all Tweet-sized. That means less than 140 characters. I hope you enjoy – here’s to happy and prosperous retailing.

Tom Dalton

I first started making signs back in the early 90's. On January first 2000 I started Signs Direct as an online company specializing in making sign purchases easy and economical. Signs Direct, Inc. specializes in traffic and parking signs, customized neon signs, sign holders and sign stands, as well as banners and sign making materials.

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