Businesses Push for Eye-Catching Signage

October 7, 2013

Half the battle for small businesses is getting noticed, and many first impressions are made based on the first thing customers see -- a sign.

Some Albemarle County business owners are hoping to make their signs stand out, but say they are getting some push back in doing so.

Monday, the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board considered some changes to signage at the Rio 29 Shopping Center.

Turkish restaurant Sultan Kebab has occupied the far corner unit of the strip for about a year and a half. In that time, co-owners Deniz Dikmen and Seraht Peker have spruced up in the inside and created an outdoor eating area. Now, they are hoping to grab the attention of potential customers from the outside in.

Dikmen requested permission to install an internally-illuminated cabinet sign to its storefront.

"We wanted to upgrade our signage because our main issue is that we have really good reviews on the internet and in the public, but people are really having a hard time finding us here, so that's why we are trying to do some sign improvement also," said Dikmen.

The board denied the request because it does not align with the current sign standards for the shopping center -- a flat panel with attached lettering that is illuminated from the outside -- intended to keep a consistent look along the strip.

"If the business on the end had an internally-lit sign, and then we had let's say a flat panel sign, and then let's say the people next to us wanted to have a channel lighting sign, and then the bank maybe wanted to have a boxed light sign, then it would just look incongruous," said Phil Jaderborg, president of PJ Networks Computer Services.

PJ Networks, which is next to Sultan Kebab, has been trying to get the board's OK to use its traditional orange and blue lettering on its sign.

"The answer we got back from them is, 'We don't think we're going to be able to approve that because the shopping center you're in only has four approved colors,' and they were I think black and red and white and green," said Jaderborg.

At Monday's meeting, the board came to an agreement. PJ Networks can install a sign using slighter darker shades of orange and blue.

"It's critical that we be able to get the instant name recognition that bigger businesses get, but without having to jump through a lot of hoops or spend a lot of money on signage," said Jaderborg. "So, we think we had a good compromise."

Now, the co-owners of Sultan Kebab are hoping they, too, can do more with their sign to get their name noticed.

"I hope we're going to find a way in the middle which is they're going to be happy and we're going to be happy," said Peker.

Dikmen says he plans to speak with the landlord and management company for the building to look into changing the building-wide standard to include internally-illuminated signs to match nearby businesses and shopping centers.

"The rules are funny. If you look around, everyone has illuminated signs, but in particular this building, you cannot have illuminated signs, which doesn't make sense to me," said Dikmen.

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