Tony Martin Awards is a local small business that specializes in awards, plaques, trophies and so much more! We have talked with the current owner of the business, MaryLesa O'Connor about how long the business has been in her family and a bit of the history of the business.
"Tony Martin was my grandfather. He was a local amateur athlete and worked for a sporting goods company in downtown Buffalo. When he was 55 years old they laid him off even though he had a following fitting athletes for their baseball gloves and other supplies. He came home one Christmas Eve and said to his only child, my mother RoseMarie, that they would think of something. So then the trophy store was born! They started out in the basement with samples and shelves. He reached out to friends and leagues he knew. Coaches and others call at all hours of the day. He did the work himself. Once he ordered bowling shoes and a company tricked him and sent only the right shoes, so he was stuck with 1,000 or more and had used all his money. They came up with drilling a hole and putting a rod through it on a base and his first bowling trophy was born. He sold out to a league and then got the other shoe to make more. After a few years, he built a small showroom off of his garage in the back of his house and mu mother worked with her father doing the books and helping him record keep. She was married with children by then but did it every Sunday and more as we were eating sauce and macaroni at Grama and Pa's house. Often times a coach would pull up in the driveway and he would get up , go to his room and take their order, come back and finish his dinner. He created quite a following as he knew people loved to be recognized. After only ten
short years, my grandfather passed and my family took over the business. My mother always reminds us that she didn't know the difference between a baseball, basketball or football but she quickly learned. One thing she did recognize was that people loved going where someone remembered their name and cared about their budget, inquired about their family and provided true customer service. After a few years, she moved the business to a rented showroom/workroom not far from where we are now. Paying rent was difficult while building a business. They took orders during the day and made them up at night. I always referred to them as the Elves and the Shoemaker. They then hired their first employee who is still with us today and is currently our manager, Rich Maclean. Rich was a student and collegiate athlete himself so he definitely was a great fit for our business, probably the reason he is still with us today. As the years went by they hired a few more people which brings us to ten employees. We have one that specializes in graphic arts, a fireman who can service our fire departments, hockey coaches, musicians and one who services our Tae Kwon Do businesses.
We are proud of the 67 years in business and carrying on the legacy that my grandfather and mother created. At 90 years old, she is still in touch every day and all of her customer now send in their grandchildren. We are now on our third generation. Over the years we have added crystal and lucite, pewter and many other creative custom awards. We specialize in making our customers vision come to fruition. Our creativity as a group knows no bounds. I must add that my mother's contributions to the community and the service she has provided over the years are legendary. The long hours she put in while I was growing up have given us a foundation in which to continue to build on. When I was in high school they purchased a home on Harlem Road and had a friend's company gut it and make it into our cozy shop that people know and love to this day. Everyone loves sitting around the big oak table and chatting, assisting in the design of their award. Our customers have become our friends over the years. We pledge to continue to service our community to the best of our ability, working within our customer's budget and timeline. Our service is timely and impeccable. Thank you Buffalo for 67 years and counting!"
Tony Martin Awards