Husband-and-wife business owners Brett Buzzy and Heidi Hofbauer-Buzzy are keeping a legacy alive.
The pair took over Alpine Awards & Engraving, formerly the Alpine Ski Hut, in 2012. Alpine Ski Hut, Hofbauer-Buzzy said, began in 1967 after her parents, Eduard and Ingrid Hofbauer, moved to Oneonta from Germany.
“I grew up in Oneonta and I grew up in my parents’ sporting goods store downtown” Hofbauer-Buzzy, 49, said. “When my dad semi-retired, he went down into the basement part on Market Street and just did bikes, skis and the trophy and award business. When he passed in 2012 unexpectedly, we had a lot of requests to keep the business going and the awards, trophy and engraving shop was the primary business at the time.”
Hofbauer-Buzzy said, with funding from Oneonta’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, she and Buzzy, 51, rebranded the 22 Water St. business, changing the logo and signage and adding an awning.
Hofbauer-Buzzy said, while they’ve refocused on specific products, options at Alpine Awards & Engraving still run the gamut.
“We do all sorts of things,” she said. “We have a laser engraver, which we upgraded to after my dad passed, that allows us to do so many things — glassware; personalized gifts; plaques and trophies; we do a lot of engraving of tumblers and wood cutting boards; we do benches in memory of people; and outdoor signage.”
The couple, Hofbauer-Buzzy said, also designed Christmas ornaments modeled after the 2016 and 2020 Rockefeller trees harvested in Oneonta and “Rocky,” the owl found in the latter.
The ornaments, she said, proved “crazy popular.”
“In addition to awards and engraving, we also do cross-country ski equipment,” Buzzy said. “We sell the equipment and we rent and repair it.”
Buzzy and Hofbauer-Buzzy said their clientele, developed over decades, represents a geographic and demographic mix.
“We do a lot of institutional stuff,” Buzzy said. “We’ll engrave insulated cups for the B-Side (Ballroom) or the Autumn Cafe or Green Earth and we’ve done stuff for Hartwick or Oneonta State and Bassett.
“It’s primarily this area, though we do have some customers outside of the area that we ship to,” he continued. “When I say local, it’s Andes and Schenevus and not just Oneonta, but about a 30- or 45-mile radius. We’re fortunate that we’re the only local game in town that does awards and engraving or cross-country ski equipment.”
Hofbauer-Buzzy said continued dedication to individualized service has also kept customers coming back.
“When my dad passed away, he was the only trophy business in town and, prior to that, there were four or five around,” she said. “So, he took on a lot of business and had a big area — he would go out all the way to Roxbury, Stamford, Margaretville and South Kortright — and especially with the schools, he did a lot of plaques and awards for districts and (their) athletics; a lot of them just wanted us to keep that going.
“We have that unique customer service,” she continued. “(Customers) don’t want to go into a big store … and we’re there to give them service and take care of them. My dad’s motto was, ‘Don’t sell to just sell; you want to sell them the right stuff or the right equipment,’ so that’s kind of how we’re taking on the business.”
Hofbauer-Buzzy said, with four children, she hopes to keep the business’ family-owned feel.
“My husband and I both have other full-time jobs,” she said. “We’re open Monday and Wednesday, 10 to 4, and Saturday, 10 to 1, but we do a lot of work through email and we’ll meet customers and take custom orders, so it’s not like we always have to be there, but it’s nice to have a storefront. We do have four kids and they help us out. Brett’s teaching them how to build trophies and they’ll all come down to help us out.”
For more information, find “Alpine Awards & Engraving” on Facebook, call 607-432-0556 or visit alpineae.com.