There are so many cheap retractable banner stands on the market that some customers actually think that's all there is. The market is flooded with flimsy, fragile roll up banners that have all the structural stability of an empty beer can. If you have to ship them, you have about a 25% chance they will no longer work once they arrive, and that number gets higher with each subsequent shipment. They tend to lean forward when they are set up because they are so flimsy, and you have to either put almost no tension on the banner or bend the legs to try to compensate. To make matters worse, they are almost always paired with cheapest possible banner, which is usually an outdoor material that wasn't made for display purposes, so it looks bad and curls terribly on the edges. It's just a horrible product overall with the only selling point being that it's cheap.
This type of product is everywhere. Mom and Pop sign shops and copy/office stores often sell only this model. Online stores usually push this type of model because it's cheap, but usually offer other options as well, which they misleadingly refer to as luxury, deluxe, or premium. I supposed that compared to the cheap models, these higher quality stands seem deluxe or premium, but the problem is that they are not, so they have confused the customer into thinking that all cheap, deluxe or premium banner stands are the same, but we'll discuss that in a future post.
I helped a customer the other day who wanted to look at non-retractable banner stands to replace all the retractable models his company was using. I asked him why and he said that every time their sales reps came back from a show, they had to send the stands back to be fixed and they were tired of it. I told him the problem wasn't that they bought retractable banners, it was that they bought cheap garbage. I showed him a cheap stand we got from a customer to try to repair, and he confirmed that was similar to what they were using. I don't know if they bought those because they were so cheap, or if the company they bought them from only had that option and they just didn't know any better, but the situation is very common and this company was completely soured on the idea of using retractable banners for their trade shows to the point of switching to non-retractable models.
I realized a long time ago that their is a legitimate need for cheap banner stands. There are a lot of small businesses on a really tight budget, or large companies that need to purchase in volume that want to save money and even a small savings on each stand adds up when you're buying hundreds of them. Sometimes people only intend to use them locally or in a shop where they won't get shipped or dropped, so they don't need something really durable. In other cases, they may be for a particular event and may never get used again, or at least the banner won't be used again.
Because of these needs, we found a cheap model from one of our suppliers to offer those customers, but the results were terrible. About a quarter of the ones we purchased arrived broken, and we had to go through the hassle of getting them replaced. Once we started shipping them to customers, even more arrived broken, which is an even bigger problem because now the customer has been inconvenienced, or even worse if they were for an event. We quickly realized this wasn't a good idea and stopped selling that model. A few years later when we started having our own designs manufactured, we found that almost every manufacturer makes these cheap banner stands, but it's not all they make. They will all tell you they sell the cheapest models in huge volumes, but they typically have 4-5 levels of quality to offer. To go from the cheapest to next best model might add $1-2 to the cost, and yet they sell more of the cheapest design. As you move up the quality scale, the price increases more dramatically, but in the great scheme of things, you don't need to spend a lot to get a decent quality product, but that's not what sells. The idea that companies are purposely buying the cheapest piece of junk they can find and pushing it on their customers really bothers me. Why someone wouldn't pay an extra $2 or even $5 to offer their customers a better product is something I cannot understand. For the customer, or even many of the companies that sell these stands, the problem can be that the design of all these stands is the same. The only difference is in the weight of the aluminum and the quality of the components, so visually, you can't really tell the difference between the best and worst quality models. Obviously when you are working directly with the manufacturer like we do, it's not a problem, but if you're a reseller buying from a supplier, or the end customer, it's very difficult to know exactly what you're getting. Price is certainly an indicator, but there are many companies selling these cheapest models at much higher prices, which would lead you to believe you are buying a better quality product when in fact you would just be over paying for the same junk. It's made it very difficult for both retail and wholesale customers to shop with any confidence.
That's why we introduced our Budget Roll Up line. We wanted to offer a model that would compete with these other cheap banner stands on the market as closely as possible on price while still offering a decent quality product. We started out with the medium quality model for the 31.5" and 35.5" sizes, but went with an even sturdier version for the 48" and 60" models. At the smaller sizes, we had very few problems, but the larger sizes still had some issues with leaning because of the bigger banners, and we were not comfortable selling a banner stand, even a cheap one, that had issues, so we upgraded the entire line. That meant we had to increase the prices on the two largest models, but they are still by far the least expensive 48" and 60" models we offer, and now they are very sturdy so we no longer have problems. Because our least expensive banner option, the smooth blockout vinyl, is nicer than the best option available from most any place that sells cheap banner stands, it was still too expensive for some customers, and made our stand with the banner more expensive than what the junk dealers offer. Almost all these cheap banner stands are used with outdoor banner materials because it's the cheapest material available, and because in most of these shops it's all they print on. The severe curling of the banner edges is because these shops tend to print with some kind of solvent ink. Since we are printing with higher end processes that don't cause curling, we found a very smooth, lightweight banner material that looks good and hangs fairly flat that we can offer at a really low price. Like the stand itself, this is a version of what is being offered on the market that on the surface would seem to be similar, but in reality is much higher quality and therefore a much better value. Our Budget Roll Up 31 model with the budget banner option is only $95, which is cheaper than most options out there, and a few dollar more than the cheapest garbage available, yet it's much better product for the money that looks professional, won't lean, isn't prone to breaking when shipped and if taken care of, can be easily be reused for as long as necessary. Of course, we offer many more expensive banner stand models for those who need more features, greater durability, and a different style of retractable banner stand, but for those who really do need a cheap retractable banner, we're proud to offer models that aren't garbage and are an excellent value.