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Maddy Zanetti was about 14 years old when she first began working for Marianne and Dave Barker at Impressions of Saratoga. She was already something of a “regular” in the shop, riding her bike to downtown often to buy Breyer horses for her collection and toys for her dog.
So it made perfect sense that, on one of her visits to the store, the manager asked her, “Aren’t you old enough to come to work here yet?”
That was 12 years ago and Maddy has not only worked at Impressions ever since; she has also become part-owner of the nearly 40-year old business.
“We joked about Maddy becoming a partner here ever since she started,” said Marianne, adding that she could tell right away Maddy had what it takes to be successful. Maddy worked at Impressions throughout high school and summers during college. She received a degree in Business Administration from Geneseo College, graduating in three years.
Five years ago, the dream became a reality and Maddy became a partner in a business that has successfully reinvented itself and continues to remain a relevant and vital part of the downtown Saratoga business scene.
Being around Marianne and Maddy, it’s hard to miss the unmistakable rapport and mutual respect and affection the two women share. They also share a passion for the retail business, as well as a deep love for Saratoga and a desire to find new products and lines that will appeal to buyers and continue to spread the word about Saratoga Springs to shoppers who visit from across the country and around the world.
“Over the years, we’ve constantly changed products and added new lines. It’s been a real progression,” said Maddy.
Their newest brainchild is the creation and development of Impressions’ line of products, appropriately named “The Dark Horse.” During a trip to Key West, Marianne was intrigued by the ubiquitous “Black Cat” and she thought it would be cool to create something similar for Saratoga.
Both women are animal lovers and they launched The Dark Horse in 2014 to celebrate Saratoga’s reputation as the “graveyard of champions.” But Maddy says that it also represents the underdog who overcomes tremendous odds.
Marianne relates how they jokingly talked about getting a horse to serve as the line’s mascot.
“It was only about two hours later that Maddy called to say she would be picking up a horse that Saturday,” laughs Marianne.
The horse she found was a deep brown – nearly black - miniature horse who had spent the first part of his career as a show horse.
He had an easy-going disposition and an air of confidence that Maddy immediately fell in love with. In short, he was perfect for
the job of mascot.
They decided to call him “Upset,” naming him after the most well-known of all the dark horses in the world of thoroughbred racing.
The first Upset was the only horse to ever beat the legendary Man o’ War. Of course, Upset pulled off his victory at Saratoga in the 1919 Sanford Stakes. Upset’s namesake may be small, but his confidence and presence are mighty.
“When he’s here at the store, or when we go over to the polo grounds, he gets right to work and does his job. We park the trailer and he just prances down the street,” says Maddy.
She recalls that, when they launched The Dark Horse line at Gaffney’s, Upset was there for six hours and behaved perfectly the entire time.
She adds that Upset just seems to know that, when he’s at work, it’s his job to entertain and to let people lavish him with love and attention. And, if you’ve never met Upset, it’s something that needs to go on your to-do list. In fact, it’s almost a sure bet that anyone who meets and spends time with the adorable little fella will want to take him home.
But since Maddy isn’t parting with Upset any time soon – if ever – the next best thing is the precious little stuffed replica of Upset available at Impressions as part of The Dark Horse line. The rest of line includes tees, sweatshirts, hats, ties and other accessories. There is even a “Dark Horse” lawn jockey and glassware with the “Dark Horse” logo.
For more information about Upset’s upcoming “appearances,” visit Impressions of Saratoga on Facebook or call Maddy at 518-587-0666.