Between the jewelry displays, wedding gifts, flasks, picture frames and clocks, Batmark's new location seems to have just about anything you'd ever want engraved.
But items also come walking through the door, from heirlooms to iPods.
Founded 12 years ago by owner Bob Trisko, the original Batmark Engraving, at 126 Burt Road just off Nicholasville Road, focused on selling trophies and plaques, offering six words of free engraving on every purchase.
Over time, Trisko expanded Batmark to cover crystal, clocks, wedding gifts and jewelry. When business got heavy and the store got crowded, Trisko expanded into an empty lot next door.
It wasn't enough. Batmark opened a second location across the street in March, and while the new store still specializes in anything engravable, it focuses more on jewelry and gifts than traditional trophies and plaques.
Trisko first came to Lexington in 1961, but left to become a self-employed sales representative. In returning to Lexington to start Batmark, he wanted ”to control his own life and not travel so much.“
”I like to engrave, I like to sell things, and I like giving people a fair deal,“ he said.
Trisko remembers when business was soft — so soft he used stuffed animals to help keep it going. ”Back during the whole Beanie Baby craze, some woman came in asking if we had these two bears, Angel and Erin. After a couple more people called up asking about the Beanie Babies, I decided we better have these things,“ he said. ”So for the first four or five years we were in business, they kind of kept us alive while we were getting established.“
Now, the two stores have a combined staff of 10. Trisko hires extra employees for the ”busy seasons“ — December, with holiday shopping, and May, which has Mother's Day and high school and college graduations.
Batmark gets the bulk of its engraving business from the University of Kentucky, other stores in town, and charitable foundations (which he gives a discount). The jewelry side, managed by Trisko's fiancée, Connie Hibbs, has become a business in its own right.
But engraving remains at the core of the business. ”We'll do things no one else will touch,“ Trisko says. ”We had a priest come in with a silver cross given to him by the pope. He said it was a gift for a new cardinal or bishop. ... Obviously it was one of a kind, so there was no do-over. People around here only come to us with stuff like that.“