The impact of the small business community in Twin Falls is vast, yet almost imperceptible at times. Mom-and-pop shops buzz behind the scenes of every business meeting, every annual event, and every local adventure, keeping the small-town culture afloat.
Take Red Ribbon Week, for example.
Every fall, Red Ribbon Week is a time dedicated to educating youth on the dangers of illegal and prescription drug addiction. The week is filled with activities, demonstrations and assemblies throughout schools in the Magic Valley and – you guessed it – ribbons; the majority of which are made at a small trophy and engraving shop on 2nd Avenue in downtown Twin Falls.
“Red Ribbon Week for the schools is a big deal,” said Billie Mason, owner of Mason’s Trophies. “We work with all the grade schools, junior highs and high schools in Southern Idaho, including Sun Valley, Glenn’s Ferry and Burley. I remember the boys working through the night to make hundreds of thousands of those ribbons for all of the students, staff and families around here.”
A One-Stop Family Shop
The boys aren’t just employees of Mason’s Trophies, they’re Billie’s next of kin. For more than 36 years, Mason’s has been a family-run business. Grandkids have worked on engraving projects to put themselves through school, and between the three generations of family members currently working there, there’s over 110 years of experience.
The Masons manufacture award ribbons, cause ribbons and buttons. Their shop is home to corporate swag solutions, and both a diamond and laser engraver used to customize trophies, mugs, gun stocks, glass, plaques, belt buckles, and more.
“We’re an all-inclusive recognition and awards business,” said Ed Mason, “Pretty much anything people bring in, we can personalize it, and we’re the only ribbon manufacturer in Idaho.”
You may think ribbons aren’t a lucrative business, but they make up a hefty portion of Mason’s output.
“Ribbons are all done by hand – there’s no computer involved,” explained Ed. “The words are cast out of lead, eyelets are strung up one at a time, and they’re hand-trimmed. We make between 2,000 – 3,000 ribbons just for a one county fair.”
Starting with a Bang
Although ribbons make up an important part of the Mason’s Trophies history, the business origin centers around a gun club in the early 2000’s. As former trap shooters, Billie and Ed were in charge of buying trophies for the club and didn’t feel they were getting the best possible deal. So, as many entrepreneurs do, they set out to solve that problem.
“Ed and our son started the shop with the help of the gun club,” said Billie. “In 2005 we bought Gem State Trophies and in 2009 we merged the two businesses together. We have a customer base who’s worked with us since our original purchase of Gem State. I think that says something about us and about our service.”
Billie’s right; for many small businesses, longevity is a hard row to hoe, but she said if you focus on providing swift service and treating customers like family, you can’t go wrong.
“We’re homegrown and we take pride in our one-on-one experiences,” Billie said. “It’s a community feel that people get here in Twin Falls.”
To learn more about Mason’s Trophies, visit their shop at 409 2nd Ave S. in Twin Falls, or at http://www.gemstateawards.com.