April 12, 2006

Display fixtures: Catalog or Custom?

Q. Should I buy display fixtures from a catalog or have my local contractor make them custom?

A. There is an upside and a downside to both approaches. You must weigh the choices and decide what is best for your particular situation.

CATALOG FIXTURES - Most fixture manufacturers will do a free dispensary layout for you and give you an exact price for the whole package. Fixtures can go with you if you move to a different location and it's easy to add more pieces in the future by just placing an order from the catalog. However, display fixtures are fairly expensive and some people want their office to have a different look than what can be achieved with pre-made fixtures.

CUSTOM FIXTURES - Your local cabinetmaker can build your dispensary fixtures if he has a well-detailed set of plans from a designer or architect experienced in optical design. The cost of your dispensary can vary greatly depending on how much custom cabinetry is required and you won't know the actual cost until the plans are done and you get the bids.

The quality of the work can vary also. It's up to you to choose the contractor wisely and refuse to accept any sub-par work. With custom fixtures your office will be one-of-kind and could cost less than if you bought all fixtures.

Many offices have a combination of the two. Free-standing showcases with built-in lighting and locking doors are complex pieces best left to a specialty manufacturer who builds them all day long. Your local cabinetmaker may not be able to give you the high quality you need in a showcase. However, much of the other cabinetry in the dispensary can be handled by a good local cabinetmaker without a problem.

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