Located in Midtown, TrophyTime provides world-class recognition and motivational products including a full line of plaques, trophies, ribbons, name tags, rubber stamps, and other promotional and specialty items that make your business stand out. CCP spoke with Owner Keith Bowman.
How long has TrophyTime been open?
We opened in 1976 and I bought our current building (at 223 S. Locust) in 1980. We’ve been in the business for 42 years.
How did you get into the trophy business?
I was a purchasing agent for the Champaign County Sports Car Club. In those days, jewelry stores were the only place you could buy recognition items and awards. I did lots of research at the library, went to trade shows, and saw that there was a market for the business in Champaign. I was working at the phone company in Rantoul at the time and decided it was time to start this.
Why did you locate TrophyTime in Midtown?
Because of the university. I wanted to be close to UIUC and Midtown was a good spot.
What do you enjoy most about being a small business owner?
The diversity. No two days are the same. I also enjoy the people I get to meet. Some have become long-time friends and others are good acquaintances.
What has changed the most in your industry in the past 40 years?
We’re not just trophies anymore. Trophies used to be 75% of our business; now they’re about 9%. There have been many changes in technology so people are buying more acrylics, glass and plaques. Name tags are popular and rubber stamps are about 20% of our business now.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners just starting out?
Education is important. Find out about your products. Running a business takes hard work and perseverance.
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