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Author Topic: Zip-change letters
Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-09-2019 03:49 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Does anyone have an online source where I could order individual zip-change letters? The only way our sign company sells them is in "packages" and all I need is some punctuation. (Periods, colons, commas, apostrophes, dashes.)

They want to sell me a whole array that includes way more than what we need. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

Posts: 2311
From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
Registered: Oct 2002


 - posted 01-09-2019 04:44 PM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I got mine through https://geminisignletters.com/

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-09-2019 07:08 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Perfect, just what I was looking for. Thanks Jack!

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-10-2019 12:43 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well I just got the bill from our sign company for the work on our marquee. (We had it re-wired, which was about 40 years overdue, plus swapped out our old hand-made letters for new zip-change letters.)

They charged me $1500 for a set of letters I could have gotten from the website above for $486. Same brand and everything.

I know venting here isn't going to do me any good, but it sure proves the value of shopping around. Lesson learned. I wish we weren't already using the damn things, I'd send them back.
[puke] [thumbsdown] [bs] [Mad]

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Sean McKinnon
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1590
From: Peabody Massachusetts
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 01-10-2019 09:48 AM      Profile for Sean McKinnon   Email Sean McKinnon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thats is a really large up charge.

However to play devils advocate for a minute consider that a local sign shop has an overhead they have to cover in order for them to be available (im assuming 24/7 for emergencies?) that online retailers don't have to. If there wasn't a local sign shop qualified to restore the marquee what would it have cost to fly someone in and put them up in a hotel and pay for other expenses such as meals for the time it took?

I'm not saying that a 1,000 up charge is reasonable here but I sometimes hear from people that feel certain parts are too expensive. In the case of a small run or one off projector part that has to be re-engineered and manufactured it can cost a lot more than what they sold for originally.

I know you are (or were) in the auto parts business to Mike so I know you get this and I am not trying to say this type of up charge for what seems to be a readily available product is defensible I am just trying to toss out some food for thought. [thumbsup]

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-10-2019 12:24 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sure, I agree they are entitled to make money on what they sell, but I have a feeling they pay less to Gemini than what they sell for online.

But to me that markup seems excessive considering they already got a large chunk of money for the other work they did on the sign.

Who knows, maybe that's a customary amount of markup for a sign company. You're correct, I'm still in the auto parts business and our markup is usually 25 to 40%, except on "commodity" items like oil which is closer to 10-15%. But I've heard that jewelry stores get as much as a 200% markup. So who knows what a sign company gets. Maybe Bobby H. will chime in here.

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Mike Croaro
Master Film Handler

Posts: 352
From: Millbrae, CA
Registered: Apr 2005


 - posted 01-10-2019 05:54 PM      Profile for Mike Croaro   Email Mike Croaro   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How many letters/numbers came in the $1500.00 set?

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John Eickhof
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 585
From: Wendell, ID USA
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 01-10-2019 08:31 PM      Profile for John Eickhof   Author's Homepage   Email John Eickhof   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
hi mike, sorry i didnt see this thread sooner, i sold thousands of genuine wagner zip change slotted letters through the years,a good source is signletters.com the current price for slotted wagner letters in 6" ht is $4.05 / letter or punctuation, wagner has been a leader in marquee letters 3D slotted are durable and wind resistant and use no metal clips like lesser brands. gemini are decent but lighter plastic and are brittle in colder weather like you experience so handle them with care. i would bet the sign looks bright now! take care.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10723
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-11-2019 12:54 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A $1000 up-charge is quite a rip-off for a standard package of letters, assuming the order is a quantity of 100 letters. Wagner's Zip Change letters usually cost a bit more than Gemini's Pronto letters. The high price the sign company quoted almost sounds like they just don't want to mess with the order.

If you have a Gemini catalog or look online those prices are retail. Our shop pays a little less for them on the wholesale end, but we only mark them up to the listed retail price.

Normally Gemini doesn't sell direct to end users. You can buy them from sign companies or buy them from distributors like Graphic Solutions Group, Reece Supply, etc. You have to order individual Pronto letters from JDS Industries or National Readerboard.

One hazard: Wagner Zip and Gemini Pronto look like the same kind of product, but the clear plastic panel sizes are slightly different. Wagner Zip panels are sized at whole inch heights while the Pronto panels are usually 1/8" shorter. For example a 6" Zip letter comes on a 7" tall panel. A 6" Pronto letter comes on a 6 7/8" tall panel. You really have to be careful about the letter track spacing. If it was set up for Zip Change letters then it's usually best to stick with those, the Pronto letter panels will sit too loose in the track.

We're selling fewer "analog" changeable copy signs and fuel price signs. More and more people are going with the LED jumbotron style displays for messages and LED digits for things like fuel price signs.

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Alan Plester
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 204
From: great yarmouth england
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-12-2019 07:14 AM      Profile for Alan Plester   Email Alan Plester   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mike..... presuming thats come out of your tab savings then????

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-12-2019 09:16 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The letter set we got was a 300-piece set.

quote: Alan Plester
Mike..... presuming thats come out of your tab savings then????
I'm not sure what that means!

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10723
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-12-2019 10:38 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What size were the letters in the 300 piece set?

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12482
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-12-2019 11:23 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
They're six-inch Gemini letters.

I wanted to get 8-inch because that's closer to the size of our old letters, but the openings in the sign face were about a half-inch too small to fit the tracks.

quote: Bobby Henderson
We're selling fewer "analog" changeable copy signs and fuel price signs. More and more people are going with the LED jumbotron style displays for messages and LED digits for things like fuel price signs.
I thought for a few seconds about changing out our readerboards for something electronic, but it proved to be prohibitively expensive, as you can imagine. Plus it really would look too modern in our "1935" marquee anyway.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10723
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-13-2019 12:12 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
I wanted to get 8-inch because that's closer to the size of our old letters, but the openings in the sign face were about a half-inch too small to fit the tracks.
There's a big size jump between 6" Zip and 8" Zip. It actually works out to a 3" difference. 6" Zip letters come on 7" tall panels while 8" Zip letters come on 10" tall panels. The distance between track is 6.25" for 6" and 9.25" for 8". Take off 1/8" for Gemini Pronto letter track spacing and letter panel sizes.

quote: Mike Blakesley
I thought for a few seconds about changing out our readerboards for something electronic, but it proved to be prohibitively expensive, as you can imagine. Plus it really would look too modern in our "1935" marquee anyway.
Yeah, LED displays aren't for everyone. The up-front cost is probably the biggest issue, with periodic maintenance and power consumption adding to the total cost of ownership. Newer LED boards are getting better and better. Still, you're not going to get more than about 7-10 years of life out of one before it's time to replace it.

Then there's the issue of creating content for the LED board. Daktronics has some excellent message creation software (Venus 1500), but it still requires someone with some graphics talent and knowledge of motion graphics software (like After Effects) to get the most out of these displays.

Even though they require more space, I kind of prefer the look of slotted Wagner letters. They provide more of a classic marquee look. Instead of the letter being screen printed on a piece of flat clear plastic the letter is a solid dimensional object with .625" deep returns. The slotted letters hang on rails. The downside is those kind of letters require bigger sign faces to contain the same message as a flat changeable copy sign (due to how the rails are traditionally spaced). 6" slotted letters are roughly $4 a piece.

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 868
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted 01-13-2019 08:58 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I'm not sure what that means!
Tab= screen curtains

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