Jeanie Hatfield, a freshly retired elementary school teacher of 30 years, recently purchased Racine, Wisconsin’s Maier Trophies, rebranding the business as The Trophy Shoppe. Hatfield signed the ownership papers on June 30th and officially opened for business on July 10th.
“Since I was retiring, I thought it would be a good time to turn the page,” says Hatfield. “I always talked about going into some kind of a business and would toss things around, but then one day I was playing tennis with some of my friends and one of them told me that her father … was looking to retire from owning (his) business.” That man was Gene Biesack, former owner of Maier Trophies. He had run the business for 50 years.
Hatfield continues, “I started thinking about it and thought it would be a really positive venture and a really neat way to earn a living.”
To her, it was the perfect opportunity to support the youth, give back to the community, promote sportsmanship, and offer positive reinforcement for hard work and dedication – things that she’d come to value greatly during her career in education. “I’m a person who wears many hats,” she states. “I’m a daughter, sister, wife, mother of three, teacher, singer, volleyball coach, director of variety shows, and baseball and tennis player – as you can see, I am very active and involved, and I want to give back to the community.”
With this enthusiasm and a determination to learn, Hatfield immediately got to work with her new laser engraver, which arrived at the shop just five days before its opening. Although she admits that the learning curve has been steep, she credits her experienced staff to the progress she’s made so far.
Biesack is one of those teachers. He continues to work at The Trophy Shoppe as a part-time employee, helping with Hatfield’s transition into the awards and engraving industry. “Gene has stayed on and done more of the intricate engraving on jewelry and (non-flat) items,” Hatfield explains. “I’m very fortunate that I was able to retain him as well as Vicki Frederickson, Gene’s longtime employee of 15 years. She has really held everything together for Mr. Biesack after his wife passed away and has been very valuable to us.”
Alongside Hatfield and her two Maier Trophies graduates are two new faces: Elena Bloom and Dana Gallagher. Bloom, Hatfield’s friend and former colleague, is responsible for sales, engraving, and trophy production. Gallagher, Hatfield’s daughter, handles marketing.
For the most part, they’ve kept a great deal the same, Hatfield says. “I think what really helps this business thrive is that I had an existing customer base and was able to retain some of the staff (the customers have come to know),” she reflects. But there has been one major change: a new location. Now set at 6800 Washington Ave. #1A, Racine, Wisconsin, the shop is approximately a 12-minute drive away from the original, which was at 3017 Drexel Ave. Their motto is, “New name, new location, same friendly faces.”
In addition to relocating, The Trophy Shoppe has grown from being a sports-focused retailer by expanding into corporate awards and custom gifts. They are also diversifying their substrates. Hatfield elaborates, “I’ve already added a crystal line, and we’re looking into more materials for engraving. We have plastics, aluminum, brass, and steel, but we’re ordering more (substrates) that will provide a variety of options.”
As the shop continues to grow, they hope to upgrade from its current engraving software to expand its graphics capabilities, especially for customers who provide their own logo.
For more information, visit www.thetrophyshoppe.com.