The trophy shop conspiracy
One of the challenges facing a racing committee, especially in a smaller sailing club, is providing nice trophies, especially for the major events, without breaking the club’s budget. While most racing sailors would race just for the fun of it anyway, a trophy gives concrete recognition of their accomplishments.
This spring, Zorro, as race committee chair, surprised the Rio Grande Sailing Club’s new officers by spending an enormous amount on trophies – and yes, they were very nice trophies indeed, but the cost far exceeded the money the club took in for race entry fees.
So for the New Mexico Sailing Club’s racing season, Cherokee and I were determined to find a less expensive way to provide race participants with recognition. Last week, Tadpole, Pat and I hit hobby and discount shops to see what we could find.
The hobby shops were a real bonanza. We found wooden plaques that could be stained and finished, and decorative bits that could be glued on, to make trophies for the minor regattas. We found wooden model sailboats and nautical-themed clocks for less than half what the trophy shops charged. The biggest find was a tiled glass plate, identical to one that the trophy shop in El Paso had sold Zorro for $60, for a mere $10.
The one missing element from all of these items was some sort of label. All of the prizes from the trophy shop had either a small brass engraved plaque or a piece of plastic, similar to a flexible refrigerator magnet, with a brass-like finish and printed with a laser printer.
Surely it wouldn’t be hard, I figured, to find some of that plastic material, or small brass plates to which I could apply a clear label printed on the laser printer – maybe not as nice as engraving, but still pretty nice. The hunt was on. First, the hobby shops: Nope. They did have both brass and plastic plaques, but not blank ones, just ones that already said things like “Happy Birthday” and “Congratulations.” Next, the office supply places: Yes, they had the plastic plaques available, in the form of name badges, but available only if we ordered them with names printed on them. Home-improvement shops: Close – they didn’t have plain rectangular plates, but we found brass backing plates for drawer pulls. Still not a terribly workable idea, however.
So what we ended up doing was just using clear plastic mailing labels, printed on a laser printer, stuck directly on the trophy. This works nicely if the trophy is light-colored (such as the wooden plaques), but not so well on darker-colored objects (such as boat models) or multi-colored items (such as the glass mosaic plate). We’re still looking for better options – one of the club members has a friend who has the tools to do laser engraving, for example, and he might know where to get the little brass plates.
This brings us back around to why Zorro ended up spending so much money in the first place. The trophy shops seem to have a monopoly on the brass and brass-like plastic plaques, and they (or at least the one Zorro goes to in