New Brunswick businesses are reopening as COVID-19 restrictions begin to relax and business is booming for the sign-making industry.
As stores reopen their doors they’re often using signage to display social distancing rules and arrows to point customers to approved routes through their aisles.
Andrew Hamburg has been the owner and operator of Signs Plus in Saint John since the early 1990s.
He said his small business stayed open during the worst of the pandemic although it operated with a staff of two instead of the usual six or seven.
Hamburg said business was down 43 per cent in April compared to the same month in 2019. But other organizations that remained open needed his help.
“We were doing a lot of COVID-19 signage throughout because people didn’t know what to do and things were changing,” Hamburg said.
But Hamburg admits that he didn’t expect the type of demand for signs and decals he has been experiencing.
The real spike came late last week, when the New Brunswick government eased some COVID-19 restrictions and allowed more businesses to open.
He said he brought back his full staff to help handle the influx of calls. His three industrial printers have been running ten hours per day.
“(Demand for) floor graphics is definitely up, hundreds of per cent,” Hamburg said. “We’ve always done floor graphics, but it’s a small piece. You know, you go into stores and you’d see maybe a chocolate bar promotion or something on a floor graphic, but nothing to this extent.”
Companies who deal directly with the public have also created a backlog of requests for plexiglass barriers.
“Plexiglass became a huge shortage, so we do have some more coming next week,” said Hamburg. “It’s liquid gold these days because it seems everyone needs some type of barrier.”
Signs Plus not only makes the signage but it often installs it as well.
Saint John’s Brett Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC is just down the road from Hamburg’s shop.
The auto dealership purchased floor graphics indicating where customers should stand in their main showroom, and parts and service departments.
The showroom reopened to customers Monday after being closed several weeks.
In the interest of social distancing, only one vehicle sits where six or more are usually on display.
More than half the staff are still working from home, according to Erin Buckley, the dealership’s marketing manager.
Buckley said patrons are responding well to the new layout, and new safety requirements are keeping staff on their toes.
“It takes a little extra to do everything because of the cleaning and frequently washing your hands and wiping things down multiple times a day,” Buckley said.
“It’s our new normal right now. It’s hard and different, but we’ll get through it.”
Hamburg said he is pleased to be able to assist local businesses in their relaunch efforts.
“You can’t deny them what they need,” Hamburg said. “I mean if all they need is something that we can provide then we’re here to provide them that service.”
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