Buffalo Grove shop owner has seen it all
Crown Trophy office manager K.C. Faetz and owners Charlene and Steve Berger pack up their merchandise Monday as the business gets ready to move locations within Buffalo Grove. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:13AM
BUFFALO GROVE — Charlene Berger’s ideal line of work has brought her customers who came in with a broken golf club, an athletic cup and even a lady who wanted to consolidate all of her husband’s trophies into one.
Berger owns the Crown Trophy franchise, currently at 400 W. Dundee Road but relocating within Buffalo Grove on Oct. 1 to 1340 Busch Parkway. She said she loves the industry because, with the exceptions of memorial services and the rare oddball request, she is helping her customers put celebrations together.
“It’s a great business to be in because every’s here to recognize someone else’s accomplishment,” Berger said. “I meet the best of people. All my customers are wonderful.”
Including the guy with the cup.
All of them have come to the south end of Buffalo Grove for nearly 17 years, entrusting their needs to the local Crown Trophy franchise. The company of about 150 franchises makes medals, plaques, acrylic creations, name badges, dog tags, promotional items and more, but the company’s new additions forced the move up north.
“I’ve been going back and forth with the idea for about six months,” Berger said. “About a month ago, we decided to do it.
“We just need more room,” she said, explaining that the new location offers 3,100 square feet of industrial space.
The new location has room for the air compressors and sandblasters required for one of Crown’s new features, crystal engraving. The company now offers color sublimation, which required large heat presses, she explained. The lease also will provide thicker walls for noise reduction and a loading bay in the back.
“The facility we’re at, they have to play Frogger to unload a truck,” she said.
Citing the loyalty of her longtime customers, Berger said she her goal was always to stay in Buffalo Grove. The jump to Lake County, she added, will lower her taxes, too. The move also will bring her closer to most of her corporate customers, she said, except Buffalo Grove High School.
“Now they have to hop three miles instead of one mile,” she lamented.
The store originally opened under the ownership of Terri Lang, with Berger as its manager. In 2006, Lang was ready to retire, but Berger said she enjoyed the job too much to leave it.
“I said ‘I’m not ready to retire,’ so I bought it from her,” Berger said.
Her years at Crown have yielded interactions with several unexpected customers.
Among them was a woman who said she was tired of all the trophies her husband had around the house. The plan was to replace them with a single acrylic tower that would list the title and year of all his accolades on its face.
Berger took the job, but raised her eyebrows as she started going through the list of awards she would be placing on the tower, which included “National Football League Coach of the Year, 2001.”
The woman was Gail Jauron, wife of Dick, who was at the time head coach of the Chicago Bears.
Another customer wanted to mount a broken golf club on a trophy base. The gift was going to the club’s owner, and commissioned by his golfing buddies. The plaque stated that watching their friend Joe snap the club after a poor drive had been “priceless.”
But the most memorable customer Berger could recall was the man with the athletic cup.
The man had been part of a golf league and its winner had earned a cash prize, but did not want it. Rather than the money, the victor said that he wanted “a cup,” meaning a trophy like golf’s prestigious Ryder Cup.
The other guys in the league, though, decided to give him a different kind of cup — an athletic supporter, spray-painted gold and mounted.
“First of all, he brought in a used athletic cup, and I said ‘Oh, I’m not touching that, bring in a new one,’” Berger recalled.
They did, and she built them their trophy.
“I would have loved to have seen the guy’s face getting that,” she said. “He got his cup.”