New town, same spirit

Patricia’s Presents, an eclectic gift shop first featured in WAG in early 2015, has just made the move to Bethel after five years in Ridgefield.

For many, pets are not just animal companions but part of the family — siblings, or children, if you will.

At Patricia’s Presents, which opened in Bethel in mid-September, that spirit is warmly embraced — and embodied from the start, in the form of a petite rocking horse that holds the “open” sign at the shop’s entrance.

Even owner Patricia Polk’s own dog manages to be a part of the action, keeping an eye on things from within gated quarters in the back office on a recent afternoon.

Polk introduces a visitor to Scotty, but the rescue Cocker Spaniel’s not the only animal presence in the surroundings.

As WAG knew from its 2015 profile, Patricia’s Presents is an eclectic shop where all things animal — whether it’s a needlepoint pillow featuring a Corgi, an equestrian-themed painting or a handful of playful pig-themed gifts — find a welcome home.

As expected, the shop also still features a sophisticated mix of home goods, fashions and a selection of jewelry, many of the adornments designed by Polk herself.

This autumn, Polk is settling into a new space in the midst of charming Greenwood Avenue, having made the move to town after five years in Ridgefield.

“So, here we are,” Polk says with a broad smile that reinforces how comfortable she is in her new retail home.

Polk says she was ready for the move, as her neighboring tack shop — which anchored the cluster of stores along a busy stretch of Ethan Allen Highway (Route 7) — was closing after more than 40 years.

She began checking out other Fairfield County communities and, she says, “started to fall in love with Bethel.”

“It’s more artsy and pretty than just pretty,” she says, noting, for example, she’s already finding an audience that appreciates her artist-inspired clothing and accessories.

Connecting with a clientele that appreciates her approach has always been Polk’s goal.

Polk, raised in New York City and now living in New Milford, studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. She would go on to work in the Garment District but eventually pursued another dream, to be a flight attendant. That new direction proved fulfilling, especially as it allowed her to explore the world and gather materials and sources for her jewelry designs. She began showing her jewelry at dog shows nearly 20 years ago and, from there,  began expanding her offerings with it all eventually coming together in the Ridgefield shop.

The space in Bethel is comparable in size to her previous shop, though it feels much larger thanks to large picture windows. And Polk is proud of one key addition — proper dressing rooms, which have allowed her to expand her selection of clothing.

But it’s the varied gifts that seem to catch everyone’s eye. Dotted around a leopard-print rug are tables and displays holding everything from fun signs (“Princess Parking”) to wall hangings featuring dog silhouettes, from animal-head wire sculptures to Fair Trade selections such as gift boxes created in South Africa out of recycled soda bottles.

Polk shows off a selection of 3D greeting cards, an elaborately detailed gift in itself.

“Do you think I have fun here? I enjoy myself,” Polk says with a laugh. As do customers, with whom she enthusiastically chats as they make a purchase on this recent day.

As she goes to show us another new item —
holiday-themed pigs that squeak when you squeeze them — Polk pauses, seeing the shop from, literally, another perspective.

“This store is so new (that) I stand somewhere I’ve never been before and I say, ‘Yes, this is lively. It’s not boring.’”

Boring, we note, would never describe the eclectic offerings of Patricia’s Presents.

As she continues the impromptu tour of her inventory, she soon looks up to ask, “Have you had a great laugh today? You’re going to now.”

And she’s right. She takes one of the Chuckle Buddies she has on hand and within moments, the little motion-activated animal is rolling on the floor emitting an infectious laugh.

Yes, we do join in, admitting it would indeed make quite a stress reliever.

It’s yet another example of what Polk once told us about her shop still being the case.

“People seem to appreciate the fact it’s a little quirky.”

Summing it up best, perhaps, is the slogan printed on yet another of the countless gift items at Patricia’s Presents: “Be the reason someone smiles.”

Patricia’s Presents is at 164 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel. For more, visit

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