When a door closes, a window opens. When it’s the door to a store, the website is open, too. That’s good news for Long Islanders with an eye for items with a personalized touch. Getting to call the shots when you shop is, after all, one reason why customized gifts are so hot right now. Being in control feels good, even better during out-of-control times.
Amid the pandemic, Jeannine Palladino, of Jeannine’s Gifts and Little Jeannine’s in Rockville Centre, has gotten creative to fill orders she continues to receive. That includes a request for a cozy cotton white hat embroidered in petal pink for baby Mila. Palladino’s not-so-secret weapon: Long Island front porches, where she drops off items to be personalized to her monogrammer, Kathy Tighe, her longtime BFF who’s working from home and keeping customers in stitches.
Since the doors to her stores closed, “I haven’t seen Kathy,” she says, “just her porch.” Palladino picks up the finished item and delivers it to her customers’ porches, or they pick it up from hers. It’s not business as usual, no, and turnaround times may take a little longer.
Still, it’s a surefire and reassuring sign that the beat -- and business -- goes on. Here are three Long Island shops still taking orders for those one-of-a-kind goods.
What it offers: Personalization comes three ways: embroidery, heat press appliqués and vinyl lettering. “We are still here for you … shop online,” reads a sign on the door.
Popular items: Baby gifts, plus custom signs and cutting boards. “When you give a personalized gift, it’s always one of a kind, and people really appreciate that,” says Palladino.
Shop talk: "A customized gift takes a present to the next level,” says store regular Cindy Mata Gross, of Rockville Centre. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving because they’re big hits on social media.” Her favorites here include embroidered jean jackets and tote bags.
Contact: jeanninesgifts.com; 6 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre; 516-536-7467.
THE MONOGRAM SHOP
What it offers: You name it, they’ll monogram it for family, friends, home and baby.
Popular items: “If you walk through the door with beach towels with the family name on them, this hostess gift makes you a kind of a hero,” says owner Valerie Smith, who opened the store in East Hampton with her daughter in 1997 and has posted a sign encouraging online orders. “We are going to miss seeing you for a chance to chat and laugh … and a little bit of shopping.” The spot’s top gift is a cotton baby sweater that comes monogrammed along with adorable instructions. “My name is Jake the bear. The sweater I am wearing is for you,” they read. “Please take it off me and wear it until you outgrow it. Then you can put it back on me.”
Shop talk: Pamela Suskind, of Sagaponack, swears by the place for herself (customized saddle pads are one of her go-tos) and for gifts (a baby pillow sham monogrammed in pink, most recently). “Everything is so memorable,” she says.
Contact: themonogramshops.com; 19 Newtown Lane, East Hampton; 631-329-3379.
NEW YORK EMBROIDERY
What it offers: “At this time, our doors are locked, but you can call us or email us if you’d like to do business with us & we will instruct your further from there,” a note reads on the website for the 33-year-old store known for embroidering everything from wedding party wear (as in, Bride Tribe bathrobes), team jerseys, backpacks, hats and more. In addition to embroidery, they also do screen printing and digital printing.
Popular items: One of the sweetest recurring items is a christening gown with names added with each new baby, according to office manager Cat Marengo. The most surprising item: A vinyl monogrammed toilet seat. “That was a new one,” she says.
Shop talk: Mario Mastropierro, 52, of Center Moriches, who just retired from NCPD, relies on the shop for patches and caps for the Sworn Guns LEMC, a law enforcement motorcycle club. “Personalizing makes everything more special,” he says. He also had a sweatshirt customized to honor his partner, Dave Brown, who died last fall.
Contact: nyembroidery.com; 25 Midland Ave., Hicksville; 516-822-6456.