ANDERSON – Walking into Eckstein’s House of Awards, it is hard to imagine what used to be a one room store with painted concrete floors covered by a throw rug and a poorly dyed sheet hanging from a rope serving as a room divider.
“We tried to dye the sheets black so we could have a separation for the equipment and the baby crib in the back,” Eckstein said. “We threw the sheets in a washing machine and dumped a bunch of black dye in with it, but they came out all streaked and spotty and looked more like a zebra than anything.”
Fifty years later, Eckstein still has that curtain, but it is safely tucked out of view and a rich wooden screen and black mesh divider stands in its place. Thick carpet covers the concrete floor, and hundreds of glass awards and trophies line the walls, window and displays.
Business has been good for Eckstein’s House of Awards, 8 W. 29th St., Eckstein said.
“God was very instrumental in helping me,” he said.
In June, Eckstein was recognized by the Indiana State Senate for five decades of service to his community.
“They said only five percent of businesses operating for 50 years stay in the family,” he said.
When Eckstein left Anderson to attend college in Texas, he never imagined he would return one day to open a trophy business – he had other plans when he obtained an accounting degree.
For a brief period, Eckstein worked for a firm conducting audits for other companies, but during a conversation with a supervisor who had little interaction with the public, Eckstein realized he wanted to do something else with his life.
“I didn’t want to spend my time like he did,” Eckstein said.
While auditing businesses in the award business, Eckstein said he realized he could open a similar business back home in Indiana. He had family members living throughout the state send phone books to him to research his competition and decided to open his business in Anderson.