Why are sign letters and numbers never in stock?
This article attempts to answer a question we hear many times. Why are sign letters never in stock?.
Many folk come to our website looking for sign letters that are in stock, ready to be picked from the warehouse and shipped at a moments notice. The truth of the matter is that our industry is quite small with only two or three large manufacturer's and a handful of smaller ones such as ourselves.The copious amounts of sizes, colors, fonts, materials and finishes, make it prohibitive for even the largest manufacturer to operate on a stock basis, even for the most popular products.
This is why, when you go to Lowe's and Home Depot, they have a very small selection of letters and numbers, usually in a few small sizes and 2 or 3 fonts. If you are really lucky, you might be able to pick up enough letters or numbers to make a very small sign, or number your house. The entire sign industry throughout the world, works on a made to order basis. Even when sign letter orders are returned for whatever reason, they are normally recycled, trashed or used as samples. They are rarely, if ever, held in stock.
As an example, Gemini Inc., manufactures a formed plastic letter product that are made in about 80 styles, many with lowercase letters and sizes that range from 2" to 48". That's 80 styles which if it were just one size and only capital letters and numbers, would equate to 2880 unique letters and numbers. At least half of those styles also have lowercase letters and punctuation so our math is now 2880/2 equals 1440 which we add on to the 2880 capitals and numbers, for a total character count of 4320 unique characters in one size only.
If we now took that number and added the various sizes, which for arguments sake we will call 12 per font, the number of individual letters, numbers and punctuation that would need to be carried in stock for just one set of each font, would be a staggering total of 51,840 unique sign letters.
But wait! There are also 40 + material colors so now we have to multiply our 51,840 by 40 ! That's, 2,073,600 unique characters for just one product and that's just one of each character, in every size and color, for one product line! That would hardly be useful for stock purposes so we would need to multiply by 50 to be able to pull product from stock on an ongoing basis. That's over 100 MILLION characters, just to have 50 of each character in stock at all times, and that's only one of many products. Literally it would take a plant the size of GM to stock sign letters. If you thought the prices were high before, well someone would have to pay for all that stock sitting in warehouses gathering dust, guess who!
Do you see now why there is nothing ever in stock? Production times for sign letters run the gamut from one to 14 days depending on the product. That's really not a long time to wait for a custom produced item, made entirely in the United States. Let's not send the industry overseas. We need all the manufacturing and jobs base we can get .....