A Sports Award and Photo Mug For Two Special Tennis Coaches

One rainy afternoon this past May, 2007, a kid who I assume to be at about age 17, not only came in wearing sweat pant shorts, but he was sweating profusely as he entered. It didn’t help that outside it was raining. I thought he was in the middle of a work out and he needed to wind down for a minute inside a place with air conditioning. Our shop is renowned for being freezing cold at all times, even at the highest temperatures of summer. The down-to-the-pores soaking wet look couldn’t mistakingly be taken for water. It was sweat indeed. Are you in some kind of trouble? I asked him. He said he’d come to our shop looking for a way to get a tennis award plaque that looked similar to his one:

“We routinely make , very much like this one you brought,” I told him. The transfer process we use here in our shop is called sublimation and it involves a large hot iron press.” All you need to do is bring us a disk with your photo files, and we will be able to transfer those images onto identical plaques just like the one you brought today. We are almost exclusively an internet shop”. I explained. “You could email the files to us if you want, but may I remind you that we do welcome walk-ins like you as well. Go ahead and bring the media to us. Your files could be raster or vector. We can handle both formats well just the same. On a rainy day like this, you would be better sending us the files, though.”

With a grin on his face, he left and came back seconds afterwards with a USB stick containing the desired files. His vehicle was a van. He had parked not too far away, in a westerly direction towards the end of the parking lot. In fact, through ETC Trade’s display glass I could see that he had arrived with half of his team. Some of them were standing under the rain, not minding the free drizzle.

“Everyone in my team is anxious to get this award personalized and gift-rapped real soon for our two tennis coaches. Coach Bruce and coach Casey”, he explained. Our tennis team is called “The Eagles” and we go to Rancho Santa Margarita High School. They had tried Things Remembered at the Mission Viejo mall, but he said their turn-around time would be days, not hours! They needed the keepsake award by the following evening. They also wanted a mug design based on the photo he had brought, and both plaques and mugs should have a tennis ball imprinted on them.

While we generally always make exceptions in emergency cases, specially for walk-ins, I told him that our policy is in general, that we require a 2-3 day personalization period for production. The baseball plaque he had brought belonged to his little brother and it was only a sample for us to use as reference. For a small fee, we made a production schedule exception for him and we agreed to have it ready for him by 4 p.m. in the afternoon of the following day. These exceptions cost a small fee and can be requested via the web, as well, but customers must make sure to contact us by or by sending us email to info@etctrade.com, and they must get a confirmation from one of our customer services reps.

We scheduled the production to start immediately. By the end of the next morning, we had both personalized products done and ready. When he came back the following afternoon, this is what The tennis Eagles got:

(I only show half of the order)

WOWWW! My young customer blurted out when he saw the mugs and plaques for the first time. He held them in his hands as his face gleamed happiness. “These puppies turned out terrrific! I love the way the colors stand out on the award plaque! The picture in the mugs look incredibly detailed. I love the mugs, your customer service and the timing!” He exclaimed excitedly. His demeanor was different today. He was well dressed, and DRY, revealing that he probably was headed to a formal event of some sort. He was in a hurry and I was not able to engage in further conversation with him, but what I saw that afternoon will stay in my memory forever…

I saw a happy camper leave our store with perhaps what to him must have been the most he had ever given to anyone.

For easy reference to and , please visit our main page at www.etctrade.com and click on the navigation column or search for “mug” and “plaque”.

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