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Marquee business sign

July 24

Safety Measures

An SLU legacy businesses adds services to help protect others during the pandemic.

An SLU legacy businesses adds services to help protect others during the pandemic.

If you’ve passed through South Lake Union on Republican street any time between 1983 and now, you’ve probably seen Athletic Awards’ mustard yellow building and its beacon of an oversized trophy on its roof. There’s a good chance you’ve had a chuckle at some of the clever sayings on its marquee sign, too.

A recent message read “We have plexi sneeze guards pass it on.” A sign of the times, indeed.

Marquee business sign

Athletic Awards originally specialized in, as its name implies, trophies and medals for sports teams, but as big businesses moved into the neighborhood, sales for corporate awards like etched gifts and embroidered clothing boomed.

But like many local businesses, Athletic Awards’ bottom line was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have had to reduce our staff and all expenditures. We are trying to make it through this to hopefully better times in the near future. There aren’t any easy or right decisions, you have to make the best decision you can with the information and resources you have,” said Ben Holmes of Athletic Awards.

A small bright spot for sales has been the company’s addition of COVID-19 safety supplies. Athletic Awards offers fabric face masks, acrylic face shields, social distancing floor stickers, portable sneeze guards, hand washing signs, and much more.

And because of the company’s engraving and embroidering technologies, all of these items can be customizable for local businesses. Athletic Awards even has reopening packages perfect for small businesses that need safety supplies.

“We started on this as soon as the pandemic began. We were trying to help our customers, old and new, stay safe. At the beginning of the pandemic no one knew what would keep them safe, so we had many concepts that failed, but masks, sneeze guards, and face shields seem to be helping,” he said.

Even with these new offerings, Holmes wants to remind customers that Athletic Awards is still making corporate awards.

“We want to let people know that we can ship to individual addresses. We’ve been doing more international and domestic shipping since people aren’t having live events.”

The company makes the awards, ships it directly to the recipient, and then they are being presented via web events over Skype, Zoom, and other web-based conferencing software.

Athletic Awards was a recent recipient of a small business grant from the SLU Chamber of Commerce. To donate to the SLU Chamber Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Fund, click here. Small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 can apply for funds here.

Story by Ethan Chung and photographs courtesy of Athletic Awards.


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