New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Amato’s Toy & Hobby Helping Donate During Holiday Season

The development of the railroad was paramount to the sweeping 19th century evolution of the United States from a society based on agriculture to the world’s greatest industrial power.

The railroad’s consequence and charisma fostered a nostalgia that captured American hearts, establishing a tradition that continues to enchant people. Appreciation for the railroad serves as a comprehensive foundation for Amato’s Toy and Hobby Company, the venerable central Connecticut institution that has beguiled youngsters of all ages since 1940.

To honor the connection, Amato’s is ringing in the holiday season by inviting the public to participate in two civic-minded promotions.

Visitors to the store at 283 Main Street have a chance to win a Lionel Train set worth up to $200 by donating non-perishable food items. Owner Steve Amato said the donations will help restock the shelves at the New Britain Food Pantry and fill empty platters during the holiday season.

“It’s an encouragement to entice people to do more,” he said.

Amato also encourages customers to make cash donations to the Salvation Army in any denomination for the purchase of toys for needy children. Amato’s will match them with merchandise valued at twice the amount of the donations and transport them to the Salvation Army Holiday Castle.

“The toy drive has always been successful,” he said. “Typically we end up with a van full of toys.”

He added that people have come in and donated everything from pocket change to $100 in the spirit of the holidays.

Amato said the economy has reduced the amount of traffic in recent years, but showed his faith in the New Britain store by opting to keep it open after the passing of his father.

“I remember when the sidewalks were mobbed with people,” he said. “People love our merchandise and our service and the fact that we don’t high-pressure customers. The dilemma is getting more people to come in.”

The store’s atmosphere charms the holiday shoppers as soon as they hear the locomotive whistle and the comforting sound of trains moving on the tracks of his Lionel Train layout.

“Grandparents and parents get all excited,” he said. “They’sll say, ‘I didn’t know they still had these.’”

That nostalgic link to the past keeps his customers coming back.

“Why else would somebody want a train rolling around their Christmas trees?” Amato said. “The trains are a link to the old days. Everybody sees tractor-trailer trucks. They don’t see trains like they used to.”

To learn more about Amato’s daily specials and their clinic for expert train repairs, click on or call 860-229-9069. Amato is always anxious for people to come in and “talk trains.”