Amato’s Toy Store Will Close After 82 Years in Business


Amato’s Toy and Hobby is located on 283 Main St. in Downtown New Britain. Photo by: Melody Rivera

Melody Rivera, Social Media Editor

NEW BRITAIN- Downtown toy store Amato’s Toy and Hobby will be out of business on Monday, Feb. 28, and sell toys at a “reduced price” until then.

“This is our 82nd year in business,” Steve Amato, the store owner, said.

Amato decided to sell the toy store’s building after receiving an offer that he described as a “great opportunity” because he wanted to prepare for retirement. He said a common misconception about the business’s closure was that COVID-19 was the main reason. For Amato, the opposite was true.

“Business was booming during COVID because people didn’t have anything to do,” he said.

Amato was able to sell many toys and games during the pandemic to keep children entertained during the shutdown period. He sold 600 puzzles over the past two years.

“Jigsaw puzzles kept us in business,” Amato said.

Although COVID-19 wasn’t the reason behind the closing of the toy store, it was most definitely a challenge for Amato.

“We had to close down and serve curbside for two months,” he said. “Without warning, the Governor [Ned Lamont] said it wasn’t safe to come here to pick up a game yet kept Dollar Trees and Walmart open.”

Amato said it was very frustrating having to follow COVID-19 regulations when corporate businesses and large chains were open while his store had to be closed. Nonetheless, he complied by answering phone calls, placing orders, and preparing items ready to be picked up.

When Amato and his wife, Sheri, first announced the closure on Jan. 5 on their Instagram account, they caught the attention of several New Britain residents who liked and shared the post.

“Our experience after announcing we were going out of business was great,” Amato said. “People have been coming to town to relive childhood memories.”

Amato’s Toy and Hobby was founded in 1940 by Amato’s father, Vincent, as a business that sold only model airplanes made out of wood. Eventually, the company moved to the 283 Main St. location in 1974 and has sold all kinds of toys ever since. The toy store has participated in numerous New Britain events, including Main Street USA, Polish Festival, and the Halloween Trick-or-Treat Safe Zone. The store was also featured in a Christmas movie back in 2017.

“The most exciting experience was when the ‘A Very Merry Toy Store’ movie was filmed here with Mario Lopez,” Amato said.

Amato said he plans to get online to sell parts from model trains to keep busy during his retirement since the toy store was well-known for their trains.

“I didn’t get rich, but I was doing something I love,” Amato said. “I’m going to miss my customers; some of them have become my best friends.”