Teresa M. Young is the President of Sign Biz, a Dana Point, CA-based network of approximately 200 sign shops that provide training, support, and volume discounts to independent sign shop owners. Its members provide signage and environmental branding to a wide gamut of retail, healthcare, hospitality and many others. Individual shops’ adjustments have included maintaining in-shop staff, outsourcing all production, and managing projects from home.
“In these challenging times, it’s important that sign shops remain classified as essential businesses,” she said. “Signs are needed now more than ever. Sign Biz maintains a private e-mail group for the sharing of ideas, templates, and vendor information to support each other’s projects.”
Aaron Cradduck, who has owned Fairfield, CA’s Solano Signs, a Sign Biz member shop, since 2010), has endured the same pinch many shop owners are feeling. Cradduck used to operate with six employees. Only two employees remain now and Solano Signs’ wholesale-fabrication division has gone practically dormant. Cradduck has adapted to this crisis while helping his community by outfitting the Costco in nearby Vacaville with polycarbonate sneeze guards around its cash wrap and other high-traffic areas.
“I had previously made a few small signs for the store, so when they needed sneeze guards, they called and asked if we could build them,” he said. “They originally wanted acrylic guards, but I was sure acrylic would crack when installed like this and suggested polycarbonate panels instead.”
Solano signs fabricated the 22 x 28-in. panels on its AXYZ Automation CNC router, and secured them with shelf angle brackets that were screwed into countertops or walls or secured with double-sided VHB tape.
Cradduck said that other store owners have inquired about similar installations but have been reluctant to shoulder expenses amid economic uncertainty.
Installing sneeze guards and signage to encourage social distancing are essential temporary measures. There are important long-term considerations for how doing business may permanently be changed after COVID-19. With this in mind, Young, a former ISA chairwoman, has compiled a two-part series, titled succinctly Post-Pandemic Marketing in which she aptly captures the challenges sign shops will face.