Chicago trophy, engraving shop owners talk business
Who we talked to
Rick Vyverberg, owner
Plaques Plus Inc.
790 Royal St. George Drive
Steve Meell, owner
Wheaton Trophy & Engravers Inc.
107 W. Front St.
Martin Redd, co-owner
Trophy & Plaques
741 E. 75th St.
What services do you offer?
Vyverberg: "We're a full-line awards store with engraving services."
Meell: "Mostly awards, but we do a few gifts and some engravings."
Redd: "We do engraving, acrylic plaques, trophies, name plates, name badges, sublimation, T-shirts and banners."
What's your most popular service?
Vyverberg: "Awards for all different occasions."
Meell: "Awards, because of the quality and service."
Redd: "Acrylic awards."
Why should people choose you over an online company?
Vyverberg: "With us, you get service, speed and community partnership."
Meell: "You know what you're getting, and if there's a mistake, it's a quick fix. I just think it's better to deal face-to-face with someone. You get a better product and better service."
Redd: "Because they can see what the items are. A lot of times online companies don't show the true size of an object."
How do you charge for trophies?
Vyverberg: "It depends on their budget and the occasion - there's really no average size or cost."
Meell: "We charge per item by size. The engraving costs vary, but it's generally per letter. An average plaque is about $50, an average trophy would be $20."
Redd: "It's by size. Engraving comes with the trophies. The average size is around 12 inches and they can run anywhere from about $7 to $9, depending on the base."
How far in advance should people place their order?
Vyverberg: "For most of our product line, the production time is around a week."
Meell: "It depends on the size of the order, but generally, one week is sufficient."
Redd: "About five to seven days."
Are trophy shops a dying business?
Vyverberg: "It's still going strong."
Meell: "I don't really think so, although the web has cut down on business. There are three or four shops in the area that are all still in business."
Redd: "It's a seasonal business, but the way the economy is, it could be dying because trophies and awards aren't the first thing on people's minds."
Where do you get most of your business?
Vyverberg: "Probably from organizations. But we do accept walk-in traffic and we'll build you a trophy if you want."
Meell: "Most of our business is corporate. We do a lot of schools next, then the general public."
Redd: "Churches, schools, and then individuals and non-profits."