Since 1982 SignGrafx has been a partner in the success many major retailers. Our history and dedication to design and produce quality retail store graphic programs for the past 29 years has allowed us to partner with many successful national retailers. SignGrafx has been intricately involved with top management of these retailers to design, prototype, test, fabricate and deliver top graphic products for their ventures.
SignGrafx has what it takes to help your company, too. When you’re ready to take your interior decor to the next level with an experienced firm who is proven their ability to perform, call me at 1-800-392-9860 and learn how you can partner with SignGrafx’s state of the art facility and winning staff.
If you don’t want to read the whole SignGrafx and CompUSA saga below, then just read this:
- SignGrafx was instrumental in Comp USA’s rise to power from a printing and store finish out perspective beginning in 1989
- CompUSA ran into a lot of decor problems that SignGrafx was able to solve for them.
- Apple Computers trusted SignGrafx with their in-store display graphics. A first in the industry.
- If you want to partner with an organization with a proven track record with major accounts, call me. 1-800-392-9860
Case Study: Comp USA
CompUSA began in Dallas in 1984 under the name Soft Warehouse, a company that initially sold software and hardware directly to corporate customers and within a year had opened its first retail store In Dallas, Texas. In early meetings with Soft Warehouse principals SignGrafx explored and developed the initial “Warehouse” look that soon became the retailing model for many computer sales companies to copy. While the concept of selling computers in the retail chain store environment had proved successful for such retailers as Toys `R’ Us, Circuit City, and Office Depot, computer retail was generally thought to require a smaller sales staff with expertise in the technical nuances of the product. The concept of offering computers and peripherals in a “shop yourself warehouse environment” where customers would pick product off warehouse shelves was novel and quite risky. Soft Warehouse management contracted SignGrafx to design, prototype, fabricate and install a first retail store in Dallas. From picking the color theme, the letter-style and departmental graphics Soft Warehouse principals relied on SignGrafx experience and advice. Starting with a blank canvas SignGrafx was challenged to deliver a “Warehouse” retail space that would be inviting and offer customers a great new shopping experience. Lozier Corporation of Omaha Nebraska was the chosen fixture vendor. Pallet Rack and Top stock fixtures were purchased and erected in the 7500 square foot retail facility. The retail space ceiling height was 12 ft. which severely limited the use of wall graphics to inform and direct customers. SignGrafx designed acrylic “retro-reflective” back-lit panels and suitable installation hardware and installed these into the existing Lozier warehouse fixtures. Each fixture was fitted with florescent lights to produce sufficient back-light to make the graphic panels pop. “Retro-reflection” of the graphic panels was a key element that created the hi-tech atmosphere for their customers. Not only did the graphics draw attention to the product vendors and departments but because the backside of the panels was white they also reflected light onto the shelved products to enhance the product offering. Additionally these graphic panels became a profit center for the store because management was able to charge vendors for the advertising space of their displayed logos. The next challenge was to be able to direct customers to products they were seeking. Unlike contemporary shopping psychology, Soft Warehouse principals wanted their customers to be able to find and purchase what they came for quickly and easily. SignGrafx designed and installed a ceiling hung aisle marking system to direct customers to the appropriate product departments. Gondola top signage clearly marked specific products and color coded gondola price channel insert strips designated the depth of each product category. The goal was accomplished. Customers could enter this store, find and select the desired product, place it into the shopping cart and move through the check-out stations in a jiffy. And shop they did. It was not unusual to see customers with $5-10,000 worth of computer equipment packed into a grocery type shopping cart pass through the check outs during their lunch break. Success!
SignGrafx and Soft Warehouse Expand to 18 Stores
Building on this good fortune Soft Warehouse expanded to multiple locations in several states. By the end of 1980’s SignGrafx had fabricated and installed graphic packages into eighteen Soft Warehouse superstores in several States.
Soft Warehouse management successfully explored and exploited the idea of opening a superstore, a large facility offering complete lines of low-cost merchandise. SignGrafx is proud to have been instrumental in partnering with Soft Warehouse to design fabricate and install their interior retail graphics to achieve their goal. Soft Warehouse speculated that as the public became more familiar with computers, the computer retail operation would broaden in scope, and with a staff and management more skilled in marketing than in computers, the company would be successful. While retail chains such as ComputerCity and BusinessLand emerged during the early 1980s, Soft Warehouse developed the first chain of superstores in the computer market. Soft Warehouse management knew they could rely on SignGrafx to fabricate, deliver and install their graphics in record time to meet the rapid expansion goals.
By 1989, Soft Warehouse hired as its president and chief executive officer Nathan Morton, a former top executive of a leading retail chain called Home Depot. Morton had no background in computers, and he later recalled for a 1993 New York Times article that his friends and family were shocked that he took the leadership position at Soft Warehouse, some attributing the move to a mid-life crisis.
Increased sales from $66 million to $600 million
Morton, however, had a unique vision for the development of Soft Warehouse, which led to a period of explosive expansion for the company. Along with other new executives, who came to Soft Warehouse from Kmart, Hechingers, and Wickes Lumber, Morton planned the construction of a series of superstores that would provide the lowest prices in the industry and the largest selection available on a national scale. Soft Warehouse dramatically increased sales from $66 million in fiscal 1988 to $600 million in 1990. The company became the largest chain of computer superstores in the country, changing its name to CompUSA in 1991. SignGrafx continued as the signage vendor of choice for CompUSA fabricating and installing over 100 CompUSA superstores throughout the United States mainland and Hawaii and Alaska.
SignGrafx is charged with Installing Apple Computer Graphics in 1991
Through 1990, product lines at the CompUSA superstores consisted largely of IBM clone personal computers, including a private brand line known as Compudyne. In 1991, the company persuaded manufacturer Apple Computer, Inc. to allow the distribution of the Apple Macintosh personal computer through CompUSA. As Apple had never before allowed distribution through discounters, Soft Warehouse regarded this agreement as reflecting its reputation as a national marketing force. SignGrafx was engaged to partner with CompUSA’s advertising agency and Apple executives to design and implement a graphics package to sell Apple Computers in CompUSA superstores. The Apple Store within the CompUSA stores was born. Within 2 months SignGrafx accomplished manufacturing and installing 32 Apple Stores into existing CompUSAs’. Selling Apple products in CompUSA stores once again spelled success and we are happy to report that SignGrafx was a significant part of this as well. SignGrafx continued as the primary vendor of interior retail graphics for CompUSA until 1998 when CompUSA acquired 100 Tandy owned Computer City locations. Following this purchase, SignGrafx was challenged to re-brand many existing Computer City stores with the CompUSA brand and continued its long lasting and successful relationship with CompUSA until it was purchased by Groupo Sanborn who took the company private and ceased expansion.
18 Years of Partnership
When your company seeks a partner to help with your retail expansion you can trust us to perform.
SignGrafx has what it takes to help you reach your success:
Expertise, proven ability to perform, State of the art facility and a winning staff!