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The store's name - TAGS (Trophies, Awards, Gifts and Specialties) hasn't changed since it first opened in 1972. And the integrity of that name - friendly customer service, quality work with innovative design hasn't changed either. We create everything from plaques, trophies, name tags and pens to apparel and just about any logoed promotional item any business might use in business development and marketing.
Denise and Rob Sawatzky, owners of the store since 2018, want to carry on the culture at TAGS that connects with and serves the local and extended community. People go online or take the time to come in and place the order. "It's important to them so it's important to us," says Denise.
TAGS is committed to customer satisfaction in every area of the business. That was obvious recently. A local business wanted an award created with a specific design. This award was needed in a 4 week timeline. TAGS prepared the award within a week's time and opened the store outside regular business hours for pick up to ensure the most accommodating experience possible. Denise said. "People call to say they have to get something. We'll help them."
From the start, TAGS Awards and Specialties has been on the cutting edge. It was one of the first stores in the country to use computerized engraving in the late 1970s. It was later one of the first in the country in the late 1980s to use laser engraving equipment. Today, it is one of the largest and most successful retail awards stores in the United States. TAGS gets orders from across the country and the production area is continually expanding.
The store's reputation is a reflection of its staff. "They've all been here a really long time." Denise said "That speaks well for the sort of business we have. They like working here and they like the product." And they like the customers.
Denise and Rob love that they see the same customers come in and say they want to work with Patty or Aileen. That's what's nice about a local business. You get to know the customers and they get to know you."
In 2004, Denise and Rob moved to Olympia. Denise was full-time taking care of their children, Sarah, Jack and soon to come Parker as well as working as a surgical assistant and marketing person for a local surgical practice. Rob was working for Tumwater Schools as principal at Black Lake Elementary School. Rob moved into the private sector with K-12 capital improvements and then back into public schools managing the 2013 bond work for Tacoma Public Schools as the Director of Planning and Construction.
In 2018, the Sawatzky's bought TAGS from Mike and Brenda Williams (the third owner of the business) The Williams' purchased the store from Carl Salstrom in 2001, who purchased the store in 1985 from Orville and Bernice Armstrong. Orville, who was at one time the President of the National Awards Association (ARA), used to drop by the store and chat with Brenda about how things were when she owned the store. The history has become a community legacy. Orville's wife had a beauty shop next door. When the Williams bought it, the beauty chairs were still downstairs. This building (Building B) is now used for advertising apparel, embroidery and promotional items.
Attention to quality and service at TAGS is important. People are having to think very hard on how they're going to spend their money. We want to make sure we're giving them something of good value and give them good customer service with that
TAGS engraves the names of honored athletes onto sports trophies. We also engrave acrylic awards that customers can help design for any occasion, ranging from weddings, graduations and births. TAGS also provides heavy bronze plaques often used to commemorate major construction projects. But the list goes on and on. If a customer wants something personalized, TAGS is usually the place to get it done.
The store's top priorities are QUALITY and FRIENDLY CUSTOMER SERVICE. People often come in at the last minute and they say they need it immediately. Usually it takes a week, but it happens. People need things right away. We usually say "Let's find something for you. WE CAN DO IT!"