We always suspected that the majority of handheld PVC prop signs came from the same one or two places, but at the expo I observed a clear difference in quality just from looking at the signs that were offered.
Right then I decided to do a comparison. First I was going to ask each seller to provide a free sample to be compared, tested and rated but then I decided that quality is only one element that's important when choosing who to buy your signs from.
Other reasons include the actual sell, from first landing on a website to how the company handles special requests, the checkout process, the shipping time, what was received vs what was promised, how accurate the sign is to it's description and overall customer service.
I know there are a TON of companies offering PVC signs (ourselves included) but because my bank account has it's limits, I decided to go only with, who I feel, are the 3 biggest players in the game, YoProps, Prop Trunk and Prop Shop Pros.
My rating system is very basic. For each category a company can only score 1, 2 or 3 points.
1 = Below Expectation
2 = Meets Expectations
3 = Exceeds Expectations
|Website & Ordering||9.5||13.5||14.5|
|Packaging & Shipping||10||11||9.5|
|Product accuracy & performance||9||12||12.5|
Continue reading to see the break down of each section and my explanation. Results may vary.
|Variety of Products||2||2||3|
|Description of Products||2||2||2|
|Product Options (Single vs Bulk)||1||1.5||2|
*Many items scored concerning websites are a matter of opinion. You may want to visit each site for yourself to form your own thoughts.
My general impression of this site is clutter. I think there's just too much happening on the landing page. I have testimonials, FAQ, pictures of their friends, an "About" section, featured products and some pretty vague categories. I can look at things in "The Cube" category (whatever that is), "PVC Props" category (thankfully I know what the props I'm looking for are constructed with!) or I can browse "Backdrops".
Prop trunk does offer a huge selection of many very attractive sign bundles but unfortunately they don't seem to sell single signs except the for the boom box, which is what I ordered. If you can buy signs individually, I didn't see it. The products all had great images and all descriptions. I had to mark the SSL down because, though they have one in place, the certificate doesn't match the website's name. Click here to learn more.
My biggest complaint is immediately after typing their website in my address bar, I was greeted with a huge banner wanting my email or something. I'm actually not sure because I didn't read it. Does anybody?
This site is clean, descriptive and leaves no room for confusion. I'm greeted with an attractive slider showing me various prop packages along with a section for featured and new products. Navigation is very intuitive with options that help me get exactly where I'm going.
There was also a huge selection of bundles to choose from here and if I'm not mistaken, the largest selection of the 3 sites, although they're all 3 pretty close. All products have beautiful photos and detailed descriptions. I was happy to see that I could buy any sign as a single product, however the system they have in place isn't the easiest. It's not hard either, but it's certainly not as easy as adding a product to your cart.
This was the only site of the 3 that had a SSL certificate in place and set up 100% correctly. Click here to verify.
Also a very clean and easy to navigate website. Although, like Prop Trunk, Yo Props has FAQ and a general about on the front page, they've done in a manner that is still clutter free. In stark contrast to the prior, I actually liked having all this info available to me without clicking around. I guess it's all in presentation.
Like the other two, YoProps has great photos, great selection and great descriptions of each prop. It also appears as though all signs are available for individual purchase.
YoProps also has an up to date SSL but unfortunately the certificate is self signed and does not match the name of the website. Click here to learn more.
Finally, I gave YoProps! a bonus point because of their subscription plan. I'm a sucker for innovation and I love to see people offering something other's don't.
*All products were purchased and with several minutes of each other on Saturday April 30, 2016. All had the special instructions added to the order "Please ship with my last name first on the shipping label."
Prop Trunk delivered me shipping and tracking information within an hour of placing an order. The Package came in a cushioned envelope, placed inside a standard cardboard envelope placed again within another cardboard envelope. PropTrunk exceeded my expectations with shipping cost because it was only $.85. I suspect that they likely base their shipping on a per piece system so that a group of 10 signs is at about $8.50. Either way, less than a dollar exceeding my expectations.
Prop Trunk is the only company that overlooked my special shipping instructions and did NOT place my name as last name first on the shipping label.
I placed my order on Saturday and the package was delivered on Wednesday.
Prop Shop delivered me shipping and tracking information within an hour of placing an order. The Package came in a cushioned envelope, placed inside a cushioned envelope, placed again within another cushioned envelope. Prop Shop exceeded my expectations with shipping time because it arrived on Monday (Ordered on Saturday).
Though I could see on the package that shipping was accurate, it still felt like a kick in the nuts when it increased my price by about 50%. This is likely not fair as I suspect this would have been the same price had I ordered a package of multiple signs but as it is, I didn't and nearly $7 for one sign seemed like a lot.
Prop shop correctly followed my instructions to place my last name first on the shipping label.
Finally, if you've ever ordered from them, you know why I awarded bonus points. One for my fruit snacks and one because they through in a free sign. It's the little things.
YoProps!, Score: 9.5
YoProps never delivered shipping notice or a tracking number. I was actually surprised when it showed up as I thought it hadn't shipped yet. The sign came plastic wrapped to a piece of cardboard and shipped inside of a cushioned envelope. I don't know if this was the most secure, but I felt like it was. My order was placed on Saturday and the package was delivered on Wednesday.
The shipping cost was exactly what I expected it to be, $3.00. Although they likely paid more, it was still a price that I thought was fair for a single sign.
YoProps correctly followed my instructions to place my last name first on the shipping label.
It's important to know that the thickness of a credit card in America is .76 mm. I confirmed this with 3 of my own credit cards.
Prop Trunk stays away from stating an exact thickness and for good reason, they're the thinnest of the three. Instead they claim to be "as thick as 5 credit cards". I found this statement to be NOT true. the thickness of 5 standard U.S. credit cards is 3.8 mm. The Prop Trunk sign came in at only 2 mm thick and very bendable. Also, for being the least durable, I was surprised that even after the cheap shipping they were still the most expensive of the three per sq. in.
Prop Shop claims their sign is 6 mm. By my measurement it's only 5 mm.
The sign I received from Prop Shop Pros was the thickest of all three signs and is very sturdy. Perhaps even over sturdy. The extra thickness compared to YoProps isn't enough to impress me or even notice without looking closely. If it were me, I'd reduce the thickness and save a few cents per sign.
YoProps!, Score: 12.5
YoProps claims that their signs are 5mm as well as thick as 5 credit cards. By my measurements, the sign is only 4mm which makes it less than the claim of 5mm but more than the claim of 5 credit cards. Their sign was also the cheapest per sq. in. of the 3 signs.
The color and art work of all three signs were beautiful and picture exactly the same. The glare was also identical on all 3 signs and was exactly as I expected. When the signs were angled toward the strobe, they were just sheets of white. When they were angled down slightly there was no glare. Various states of glare was present as the signs were tilted up. No surprise, that's just how light works.
It should also be noted that I don't believe YoProps or Prop Shop Pros is being dishonest in when listing their thickness. I believe these are likely the sizes they order when having the signs printed and cut and I suspect there's a small loss of thickness in the process. However, I still think they should take their own measurements and update their site's accordingly.
I question whether or not Prop Trunk is mistaken or dishonest. They're half the thickness YoProps and more than half of Prop Shop Pros but they make similar claims. Surely they know how thin and flimsy their signs are.
With that said, I honestly don't know if signs NEED to be thicker than Prop Trunks. Sure they don't feel as durable but I suspect my Prop Trunk Sign to last just as, or close to as long as the much thicker Prop Shop Pros. At the end of the day they all three look amazing in photos, are a lot of fun and a crucial part of any photo booth business.
Before I did this experiment I would turn to either Prop Shop Pros or YoProps if I needed a sign and that hasn't changed. I didn't care for any part of my Prop Trunk experience besides the super low shipping rate and can't imagine ever purchasing from them again.
There's a lot of people out there selling signs and most of them have awesome products at great prices. I encourage you to shop around and try out different vendors. Out of the three largest sellers however, I 100% recommend both Prop Shop Pros and YoProps. Both offer thick, beautiful and durable signs at fair prices and both have a known and trusted name in the industry.