Birth of a Sign: part 2

Yeah, it’s finished! If you’ve been following my blog, you know we have been working with a little start-up out it Perris, California. It’s a handmade ice cream shop called La Michoacana Puro Sabor. They needed a sign for their storefront. For those of you who are not following my blog, I’ll give you a quick recap.

Originally the client wanted a sign that used individual illuminated channel lettering for the company name. We agreed this would look fantastic but this type of sign comes with a rather large price tag. We then discussed a cabinet box but explained that some cities don’t like these signs because they don’t look as contemporary as individual lettering.

There were also a couple of other reasons why cabinet box signs would not work in this situation. First, cabinet boxes use florescent lighting inside. And, in order to accommodate the florescent lighting, the cabinet would have to be at least eight inches deep, so the lights don’t overheat. And, second, florescent lights use more electrical power.

Our solution was to create a Pan Channel Cabinet. In our design we used scalloped edges to outline the letters. And, on the inside, we used LED lights because they allowed for a thinner cabinet that has a more contemporary look. LEDs also use less power and last longer than florescent lights. They cost a bit more but we gave them to the client for the price of the florescent lights. We really wanted them to be happy with the sleeker three-inch thick cabinet.

Our Journey to the Final Sign

There were a few delays with this job because the City of Perris wanted the sign to be smaller. Most cities calculate the size of a sign based on the linear footage of the storefront and zoning requirements, whether the establishment is retail, industrial or commercial.

When we first submit any design plans to the city, our calculations are an estimate based on the signs we see on surrounding businesses. We always go as large as we can in hopes the city will allow it.

Originally we wanted the main cabinet to be 144 inches wide x 24 inches high. But, once we met with the city officials, we had to bring it down to 91.56 inches wide x 15.26 inches high.

The good new was we were able to keep the thickness of the box at a sleek three inches deep.

Our original design called for the round logo to be 44 inches in diameter. We had to reduce that to 28 inches in diameter. And, the capsule beneath the long cabinet went from 108 inches wide x eight inches high to 68.68 inches wide x five inches high.

All these changes required new mechanical layouts and another sign off from both the landlord of the building and the customer. And then we made another trip to the city for final approval.

While at the city the customer paid the required fees and received their permit for their new sign.

Once we received the approval it only took us two weeks to finish the job and get the sign installed.

Lessons Learned

There’s a lot more to creating and installing a sign than most people realize. The lesson here, and with all outdoor signs that need city permits, is to start early. It could take as little as five weeks and as long as eight weeks to create the design, the mechanical layouts, check with the city to see if the design is up to code, do the re-design, check again with the city and finally get approval and the needed permits. And, all of these tasks must be completed before we can fabricate and install the sign. And, if your signs are in the City of Los Angeles, it can even take longer!

The best news is our client, La Michoacana, is very happy with their new sign. And it looks like business is booming. They have five out of six stars on Yelp. You might want to head out to Perris and pick up a Mangoneada, a soft mango sorbet topped with chopped mangoes and covered in a sweet, salty, and spicy chamoy sauce. Yum!