Tucked away in a small plaza located on Route 311 in Patterson lives a store that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary—where normal people can escape from their daily lives, with costumes, accessories and other gifts helping to dress up life.
One of the few locally-owned gift stores in Putnam County, Exciting Expressions is filled wall-to-wall and from ceiling to floor with a wide variety of party pieces, decorations and seasonal costumes. Now stocked with ghoulish gear for Halloween, the store is the place to go for small gatherings at home to major celebrations like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
“My husband and I moved up to Patterson about seven years ago from Westchester,” said owner Jackie Amato. “Stores like mine are a dime-a-dozen down there—there’s a place to go for gifts, flowers, balloons and things like that and there weren’t stores like them in Putnam.”
A former financial planner, Amato opened Exciting Expressions three-and-a-half years ago and will celebrate her fourth anniversary at 1072 Route 311 in March. Her lifelong passion of taking matters into her own hands when it comes to events helped her make a career transition from the finance world.
“For the most part, I kind of always have been the one, as long as I can remember between my family and previous jobs, to be the person coordinating events,” Amato said. “If somebody was getting married, I would take over things and pull everything together for whoever it was.”
Amato initially envisioned Exciting Expressions as part-gift store, part-event planning operation. Realizing the void of a community novelty store, Amato began to narrow her focus on the products. “The public needed the paper goods, the goodie bags, the balloons—all of that really came from customers’ requests and we wanted to give them what they wanted,” Amato said. “We were really doing what the population was asking for and that’s really how the store evolved.”
Faced with an unstable economy, Amato admitted one of the biggest challenges of owning her business is the uncertainty of the market. Because people prioritize necessities with commodities, the items within her store are typically the first to be cut in a person’s budget, Amato said.
“They’re novelties, they’re extras,” Amato said. “People need food more than they need a balloon or a favor for a party, so unfortunately the things that I sell are the first to go.”
By maintaining competitive prices in check with larger commercial party stores, however, Amato has been able to keep in touch with the needs of the community. Despite Exciting Expressions’ small storefront, Amato keeps a large inventory available in the back of the store.
With a growing stock of balloons, flowers, goodie bags and so much more, Amato keeps her focus on her customers and her connection to the community. Though she works hard to put the best products forward, Amato emphasizes the importance of keeping her customers happy.
“It’s about pleasing the customer,” Amato said. “When I can make something happen for somebody, when they come to my store and they say ‘you’re probably not going to be able to help me, I’ve been looking all over for’ whatever that may be and I’m able to put something together for them—it’s pretty rewarding.”
For more information about Exciting Expressions, contact Jackie Amato at 845-878-3011.