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Patricia’s Presents Downtown Bethel welcomes Ridgefield transplant

September 18, 2018

Patricia “Patti” Polk, who owns the aptly named store Patricia’s Presents, has a boutique full of unique gifts made in the U.S. or fair-trade certified; cheap, overseas products are nowhere to be found.

“Nobody needs me for that. There’s plenty of stores that sell those products around,” she said. “My things are a little different. There’s nothing you’ll find in a mall here.”

Many of the gifts are horse, dog or cat related, although there are plenty of other gifts from which to choose, including a healthy collection of jewelry and “fashion-forward, artsy” clothing.

Polk recently moved her shop to downtown Bethel after more than four years at Ethan Allen Plaza on Route 7 in Ridgefield. The plaza also recently lost All the Kings Horses tack shop as owner Dan Reilly retired after 44 years.

The new spot at 164 Greenwood Ave. is one of five storefronts recently opened in renovated buildings following a devastating fire in downtown Bethel last summer. Byrd’s Books and The Toy Room opened earlier this month on the same block and Polk thinks the stores complement each other well..

“It’s lively here. There are always people around doing things — walking their dogs; running. It’s the way things should be,” said Polk, a New Milford resident. “I would drive through Bethel on my way to check out Newtown or Southbury. This building still had scaffolding in front of it. Then I realized what an adorable town Bethel was and wanted to be here.”

Beth Cavagna, Bethel’s town planner, said she was happy to see three retailers under 1,000 square feet spearhead the revitalization of the downtown area.

“These small locations are very appealing to small business owners because they don’t have to worry about a lot of overhead,” Cavagna said. “In the past, people always thought that bigger was best, but what we are seeing after our TOD (transit oriented district) study is that smaller is better.

“The store fits in nicely with the other retailers,” she added. “She has a very unique and diverse shop, and she has an established clientele from her Ridgefield location.”

Polk started the business 25 years ago selling her own jewelry designs to wholesalers. She attended a craft show as a vendor and fell in love with selling directly to customers.

“It was wonderful dealing with customers instead of (wholesale) buyers,” she said. “So, I started doing more shows: craft shows, dog shows, horse shows.”

She opened her first retail location five years ago on Route 7 in Ridgefield and, six months later, moved to Ethan Allen Plaza. Moving to Bethel took about 10 weeks, a stop-and-go process during the busy horse show season.

“It turned out fine and we pulled it together,” she said. “I’m pleasantly OK with having a brick-and-mortar store. People still want to touch things and chat about the products.”

The items at Patricia’s Presents give people plenty to talk about. Many products have clever or amusing sayings about horses, dogs, cats or shopping. Polk said her nightshirts and kitchen towels are hot sellers. Other items include canvas flasks, throw pillows, wind chimes and guardian bells for motorcycles. There are also framed prints from a local photographer.

Polk continues to make her own line of jewelry under the name Patricia’s Presents.

“I’m happy with the way I’ve curated the store,” she said.

Patricia’s Presents may be reached at 860-946-9715.

The writer may be reached at cbosak@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3338

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