A&E Exclusive: Trophyman Awards Shop Plans to Reopen After Devastating Fire
They may have lost everything, but owners Mark and Dee Dee Lawrence can't help but remain positive.
Trophyman, a 46-year-old awards retailer based in Los Angeles, California, fell victim to a fire on June 14, 2019. The cause of the fire was likely due to a clogged laser exhaust hose.
Although they may have lost everything in the fire, Trophyman owners Mark and Dee Dee Lawrence can’t help but have a positive outlook. The couple is currently working from home while they get back on their feet, with plans to reopen by the end of June at a temporary location. Trophyman plans to re-establish itself at the original location in about six months.
“I allowed myself to be depressed the first day, but everybody’s safe and it’s just stuff,” says Mark. “We have great customers and a wonderful support group.” Since the fire, Mark and Dee Dee have received nothing but kind words and unconditional support from friends, family, members of the community, and even competitors.
“One competitor offered me the key to his shop saying I’m welcome to use his equipment,” remarks Mark. “I had another competitor who has a very small shop and is just starting out that said, ‘I got $15,000 in the bank and it’s yours.’ I don’t need it, but the offer is so wonderful. I’ve been getting nothing but phone calls like that.”
Before the fire, Trophyman had 3,500 square feet equipped with materials needed for trophies, signs, and acrylic fabricating, including lasers and large-format printers. With all new equipment and greater capabilities than before, the new shop will be a “bigger, better, stronger, Trophyman 2.0,” according to Mark.
He is currently paying his five employees out of his own pocket. “I’ve had employees who have been with me a long time and I value and appreciate them,” explains Mark. “They certainly can’t afford to be without a job, so anything I can do to help, I do.” Employees have also started a GoFundMe campaign to help the shop get back to normal operations (www.gofundme.com/rebuilding-trophyman).
The message that Lawrence wants to leave with anyone is to clean your exhaust tube. “I didn’t realize how important it is to clean your exhaust tube,” states Lawrence. “It gets a buildup, from what I’m being told, similar to a fireplace, and a spark can hit it and boom.”