Success Story: How our LED Lighting Retrofit Visually Improved the Vans Window Display and Saved Them Money

LED Lighting Retrofit Project: Left window is using old, fluorescent-illuminated vinyl graphic; right window features the new, LED-illuminated vinyl graphic.
When we think of the ocean, we think of soft, foaming water reflecting the sky’s true blue. So, when we’re out shopping and we see a window display featuring a surfer gliding over streaky, beer-colored water, our expectations are not being met. Yet this real-life horror story was just what American shoe manufacturer Vans faced in their Costa Mesa storefront windows.

As the Vans National Signage Coordinator Patty Whalen explained, previously the storefront had fluorescent lighting behind their vinyl window displays featuring action shots: a skateboarder grinding on a rail and a surfer riding under a cresting wave. However, the fluorescent lights behind these images were not doing them justice at night. The fluorescent light was uneven, causing the appearance of light and dark streaks across the images. Worst of all, you could see the light bulbs themselves right through the vinyl.


To fix the windows displays in the local Costa Mesa Vans store, Patty turned to us at Starfish Signs & Graphics to develop a solution. President Mike Reilly recommended that they retrofit the old fluorescent lighting with new LED lighting.

“I chose [to retrofit the fluorescent with LED lighting] based off of Mike’s recommendation,” said Patty. “He really did his homework and research on this. The final result turned out beautiful.”

There is a noticeable cost savings to replacing fluorescent lighting with LED lighting. The amount of savings depending on whether or not maintenance savings are considered in the analysis. Based on energy usage alone, switching to LED lighting will pay for itself in 5 years. If maintenance savings are included (e.g., not having to replace burned-out fluorescent bulbs, particularly in difficult to access areas), LED lighting will pay for itself in 2-3 years.

As for the experience of working with Starfish Signs & Graphics, Patty was very positive. “Mike and his whole team are amazing. They excel at communicating. They effectively set a timeline and what to expect. If complications arise in the field, they handle it and explain the difficulty so that it is a one stop shop and they don’t have to return to finish on another day,” stated Patty. According to Patty, this is why “Starfish Signs & Graphics is my go to team in that area.”

Contact Starfish Signs & Graphics to discuss how an LED retrofit will save energy, save money, and most importantly, improve the quality of your illuminated graphics.


Patty Whalen manages the Vans national signage account for Ramsay Signs in Portland, Oregon. Ramsay Signs has been in business since 1911, providing state of the art signage to retail establishments of every size.


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