SYCAMORE – When Ken and Ann Hirschbein started a trophy and engraving business in their basement 39 years ago, they never thought it would become a full-time business.
The couple started Hirschbein Trophies & Engravables in 1982. In 1994, the business moved to its first brick and mortar location, 215 Sacramento St. in Sycamore, and in 2005, it moved to its current location, 202 S. California St.
At the end of May, the store will close and the Hirschbeins will retire.
“Ken started the business in our basement, working on orders part-time during the nights and on weekends,” Ann Hirschbein said. “It took on a life of its own, and we have been fortunate for it to be as successful as it was.”
Through the years, the business has engraved all kinds of items, including trophies, plaques, awards, acrylics and giftware. Unique items engraved at the store include awards for comedian and actor Bob Hope and U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
In addition to making trophies for local groups, including Boy Scout troops and sports teams, the Hirschbeins have created awards for the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, Maple Park Parade, Genoa Days, Coon Creek Country Days in Hampshire and the Kirkland water fights. Historical houses in Sycamore also have a plaque created by the business in their front yards.
“We loved being part of everyone’s celebration,” Ann Hirschbein said. “Everyone was happy when they came into our store because they were either receiving or giving an award.”
The business also has created memorial plaques, including cemetery and urn plates, garden bench memorials and the plaque in Fairdale to remember those who lost their lives in the 2015 tornado.
Ken Hirschbein sometimes knew privileged information about who won an award before the winner was announced.
“Sometimes we’d see someone in the grocery store, and I’d wonder, ‘Do they know, should I congratulate them?” he said. “We got to know a lot of different people and their children in the community through the years.”
Ken Hirschbein, 77, also is a retired plant manager at the Chicago Sun-Times and Daily News and Ann Hirschbein, 73, is a retired schoolteacher. The couple, who will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary this year, look forward to traveling and spending time with their family during retirement. They have two daughters, a son and two grandchildren.
“We’re going to miss our customers because they became our friends, even if we only saw them once or twice a year,” Ken Hirschbein said. “We want to thank all of our customers for being so loyal through the years.”
Although the store is not accepting any more engraving orders, the remaining inventory is for sale at clearance prices. The store will permanently close at the end of May.
For information about Hirschbein Trophies & Engravables, call 815-895-9137.