By Crystal Harrell

Receiving an award for an accomplishment provides recipients with a sense of a job well done, but do you ever think about where that trophy comes from? PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts has been in the Coachella Valley for decades, providing many custom trophies and gifts for any occasion.

The original store name, Desert Trophies, was originally opened in 1969. It was taken over by PJ Gillespie several years after that, and more recently, Elaine Holmes and her husband Doug took over the business in 2004 as co-owners.

The store was created  as an engraving and gift shop at a time when Indio had many new and thriving businesses. Desert Trophies provided engraving services to the local sports teams and schools, Chamber of Commerce, and many of the local businesses, as well as the agricultural community and school programs.

Since Elaine and Doug purchased the business 15 years ago, they have significantly expanded their services. In addition to engraving plaques, nameplates, badges and awards for businesses, hotels, and schools, they also etch crystal, glasses, wine, and champagne bottles.

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“We do all of this at our store, including embroidery. We provide embroidery to the restaurants, local trades businesses, and anyone that wants to market their business.  We also provide screen printing services as a more economical approach to branding.  We are a full service shop, and we also have business and gift items for recognition of our friends or co-workers,” explained Elaine.

Ever since the first COVID lockdown in March, Elaine and Doug have been following the guidelines to help keep their employees and community safe—which also meant closing down that month. It was an immediate retraction of business, but they vowed to work harder to provide whatever services their customers needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to significantly impact PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts, as schools have remained closed, there are no sport programs running, and many restaurants cannot afford new apparel since businesses have cut back. Elaine recognizes how severely the pandemic has affected the local economy, and has made it a priory to be as creative as possible to help people and local businesses.

“It’s always important to support local. Every dollar that is used at a local business helps a local family. These businesses are owned by our friends, and they employ our friends and relatives. It ensures success and sustainability for everyone in our community.  Plus, doing business locally gives you an extra level of customer service that you can’t get online,” said Elaine.

In terms of the future, the duo look forward to a time when they can return back to business as normal, but with a renewed level of serving their customers and exploring new and creative ways to expand the business. After being in the Coachella Valley for 18 years, their favorite part of owning PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts has always been interacting with the customers and the community.

“We love our customers, meeting new people, and helping them select the perfect gift or recognition award. We are in the business of celebrating success! We hope that our business and every small business will grow and become successful after we get through this pandemic. We all need to be creative, and to provide an extra level of service to our customers,” stated Elaine.

PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts also offers curbside delivery, custom masks, and promotional products, as well as a website where people can select and buy online at www.pjstrophy.com.