(Published June 6, 2007, 1:23 p.m.)
Ever thought of an unusual and special gift that you'd like to get a friend or family member for a special occasion but you had no idea where to start looking for it? Here's a clue: Start your search at Pam's Specialties, Inc., 757 Main St., Lake Geneva, 248-1138.
Pam DeNotto-Haag and her husband, Dick Haag, opened the shop Nov. 1, 2006.
The store was previously a Hallmark store for some 30 years.
"But we're not Hallmark anymore," Pam emphasized.
Instead customers find a plethora of varied brand cards of all kinds and some really unusual gift items. Take the Naked Wine Tasting Party kit, for instance. Sounds a bit risqué, but in truth it's a kit providing you with everything you need to host a unique wine-tasting party where wine bottle labels have been removed so you don't know what kind you're tasting. Included in the kit are recipes, invitations, tips on tasting, wine glass tags-everything you'd need to host this unusual party.
"I've had people ask me if they have to take their clothes off to have it," Pam joked. "What you do in the privacy of your own home is your business."
But the kit is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the varied items carried by Pam's Specialties store.
"You'll find all kinds of unusual exciting and novel gifts," she says.
"Like these candles, for instance." She motioned to a pie sitting on her counter. Each slice was actually an individual candle, which could be taken out with a pie server and lighted for a unique candlelight experience.
Also on the counter was what looked to be a glass of small rocks. They were actually Lake Geneva Chocolate Rocks intended to surprise your friends when they see you eating rocks.
The store has a number of special sections-wedding, christening, book, cards for pet lovers, Betty Boop, specialty picture frames and an over-the-hill section complete with gag gifts of canes with horns and rear-view mirrors and black balloons and shot glasses. Let your imagination run wild with planning a party for someone who's turning 50 or over.
Kids will enjoy the stuffed animals and children's books and clever little novelty gifts for children's parties.
Mothers and grandmothers will enjoy a display of kid tags, personalized metal tags that can be clustered on a key ring or a necklace.
Need a special picture frame for almost any occasion? You'll find that here, too. And you can order personalized signs with a myriad of designs on them. Let your imagination run wild.
Other specialties include Fanny May candies, the whole line of Willow Tree and Demdaco collection items, Precious Moments figurines, Singing Bears in all designs, a bachelorette section of gifts and favors for a party for the bride-to-be, fragrance infusers and incense for the home and more-lots more.
For a really unusual gift, purchase a Wish Pearl. It's a clam inside a special container that must be opened and the pearl inside removed before inserting into the special necklace provided in the kit. Talk about unique.
"We provide our customers a friendly environment while promoting an entertaining place to shop, browse and have fun," said Pam.
Pam and Dick come from a varied and community-minded background. Dick is a retired educator, having spent 40 years in the middle school level in the Delavan-Darien School District, including being a guidance counselor and assistant principal. Pam is also a real estate broker and has been in this field for 20 years.
"I've had the opportunity to lease just about all the stores in the downtown Lake Geneva area," she said.
She also had her own property management company for 10 years.
Pam's son, Ryan DeNotto, is manager and buyer of the store and has more than 10 years' experience in retail sales. Another son, Frank A. DeNotto III, recently joined the business as manager/L.P. coordinator.
Pam, Ryan and Frank run the day-to-day operations of the store. The couple has also been involved in many community activities, including Pam being a member of the Rotary Club and an ambassador for the city. They're solid family people, with a blended family of her three children and Dick's two children.
"We want to provide friendly courteous service for our customers," said Pam. "We also will ship products anywhere."
Pam's Specialties likes to reward regular customers with a reward card, which compensates loyal customers for their consistent patronage. Gift cards are also available if you just can't make up your mind what to buy that special someone.
Pam's Specialties, Inc., is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with summer hours being extended for customers' convenience.
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