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Election season could have some businesses seeing dollar signs

Jonathan Shallowhorne of Reese Supply Company, left, and Kent Vanbriggle of Mimaki USA, right, work to calibrate Southern Signs’ two new printers. Southern Signs owner Mandy Wisner said she hopes the new equipment  will, among other things, help the business compete for political advertising. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

Jonathan Shallowhorne of Reese Supply Company, left, and Kent Vanbriggle of Mimaki USA, right, work to calibrate Southern Signs’ two new printers. Southern Signs owner Mandy Wisner said she hopes the new equipment will, among other things, help the business compete for political advertising. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

 

NATCHEZ — Election season has kicked off, and in addition to the dozens of candidates entering local and state contests, another race has begun — the race for their campaign money.

Signs, T-shirts, push cards, clip-on buttons — all of those things have to come from somewhere, and local printing and design shops want in on that action.

For Mandy and Glenn Wisner at Southern Signs, with the new election season comes an opportunity to solicit candidates’ vote of confidence with new technology.

The shop installed a $96,000 flatbed printer with LED technology last week, and while the machine has uses far beyond political signs, Mandy Wisner said she hopes the shop is able to horn in on the business of running for office with some of the printer’s unique functions.

As far as she knows, it’s the only one of its kind in the area, Wisner said.

“With this, the look of a political sign would be a little better because we can do a full-color print, and with that we hope that we can be competitive with the shops doing a two- or three-color print,” she said.

“Since we can do a full-color print, if a candidate wants to put their face on a sign, we will be able to do that. Even though with screen printing the cost goes down the more you do and our costs are fixed, we hope being able to offer a wider range of printing helps us stay competitive.”

Tance Hughes, manager of Southern Designs in Vidalia, said some election spending will come early, but usually most of it comes as races start to heat up and candidates are spending more and more time pressing the flesh with people on the streets.

“It kind of comes in waves, but they will really come in hot and heavy in the three months before the election,” he said.

“They will come in and make orders in big chunks, and as they run those out they will come in asking for another 50 signs.”

Hughes said the business of vying for the would-be politician’s order means cutting them a good deal and being reliable.

“We do special pricing and offers for politicians,” he said. “The ones who have run before and are running for re-election, they will come back because they know we will get it to them on time since elections are such a time-sensitive matter.

“For the ones who are running for the first time and say, ‘We want to make a small order this time and will come back later and order some more,’ I will tell them, ‘If you order 500 signs at one hit, you will get your signs for a cheaper price.’”

Lazarus Arts owner Kim Lazarus said the same business logic applies to candidates seeking T-shirts — those who haven’t campaigned before don’t realize how many they will need.

“A lot of times when a candidate comes in, they have never ordered T-shirts before and their initial order won’t be a big order,” she said.

“But once I get (the shirts) out and the candidates start handing them out, more and more people ask for them and (the candidates) come back wanting more because (the shirts) are like walking billboards.”

And like a politician trying to get their ideas out there, businesses have to let their constituencies know what they have to offer.

“A lot of times, candidates haven’t thought about (campaign materials) until somebody like me approaches them, but I am always thinking about that,” Lazarus said.

For Wisner, the election will be a chance to introduce new ideas into the political advertising market. The new printer at Southern Signs can print on any surface as long as it is two-inches thick or smaller.

“We’ve had one guy ask us if we can print something on a boat paddle,” Wisner said. “We’re going to be letting people know that if they have it and it’s two-inches thick or less we can print on it.”

And so, as the political races heat up, so will be the campaigns to take their money.