New business brings creative balloon décor, smiles to Rockford

Steve Mattson (right) and Amy Witherspoon (left) proudly present Creative Distinctions, which will open February 6 at 25 Squires St., Rockford, in the upstairs of Merle Norman.

Steve Mattson (right) and Amy Witherspoon (left) proudly present Creative Distinctions, which will open February 6 at 25 Squires St., Rockford, in the upstairs of Merle Norman.

Steve Mattson and Amy Witherspoon proudly announce the grand opening of Creative Distinctions on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 25 Squires Street, Rockford, in the upstairs of the riverfront Merle Norman store. The shop specializes in fun gift baskets and creative balloon décor for all occasions.

Witherspoon and Creative Distinctions owner Mattson are excited to offer these new services to the Rockford area. “There really isn’t anything like this around here,” Mattson said. “Rockford is a great location, and this beautiful area offers so much more than a mall setting.”

The business will share the building with Merle Norman and take over the upstairs space that has been empty since serving as a dressing room area for a bridal store. Mattson calls this new location “the perfect spot.”

Creative Distinctions originated in Columbus, Ohio in 2007, as the offshoot of a well-established balloon company that had served the Columbus community for 15 years. Mattson and his Columbus staff first met while collaborating on a community theater production. Working with balloons was a perfect match for their love of all things creative.

As the current owner of the business, Mattson has become passionate about balloons. He hones his skills at the annual Balloon Camp in Las Vegas and at the World Balloon Convention, which will be held in Dallas, Texas this year.

Mattson believes strongly in giving back to the community. In Columbus, he has worked with a number of community organizations, including the National Hemophilia Foundation, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the National Kidney Foundation, donating his time, talents and balloon décor to events promoting health issues that impact children and adults.

In Columbus, Mattson partners with a performing arts high school, training students to build balloon décor and perform singing telegrams. “It is so rewarding to teach these young people who are eager to learn and to see them interact in the community in meaningful ways,” he said.

Mattson recalls a client who found the company online and called Creative Distinctions all the way from Japan. Her mother, who lived in Columbus, was celebrating a milestone birthday and the caller wanted to mark the event in a special way. Through e-mails and long-distance phone calls, Mattson was able to arrange a surprise visit to the mother’s workplace, where she was presented with balloons and serenaded by a tuxedo-clad student performer. The woman’s tears of joy were a testament to the telegram’s success, and the student performer felt good about his contribution to the surprise.

Mattson said balloons make great gifts, either by themselves or in combination with a plush stuffed animal, gift certificate or themed basket. “Balloons make people smile” he commented, “and they’re really affordable. Longer-lasting than flowers, our designer-quality balloons offer a lot of ‘bang’ for your buck!”

Creative Distinctions prides itself on great customer service. “Planning an event or just figuring out what to do first can be extremely stressful,” said balloon artist Amy Witherspoon. “We try to ‘lighten the load’ with attention to details, to free the client from those concerns. We want our clients to have fun and enjoy their own events!”

Witherspoon will consult with Rockford clients on their balloon décor needs and help them choose from the shop’s selections, including personalized balloons. Witherspoon noted that “with personalized balloons, clients can have their logos or special messages say it all in a unique way.”

She and Mattson look forward to partnering with several Rockford businesses to provide party planning supplies and creative balloon décor for company, community and family events. They invite the community to stop in to say “hi” and enjoy appetizers and beverages at the shop’s grand opening on February 6 beginning at 10 a.m.

Whether it’s a simple balloon centerpiece, gift basket or an elaborate room décor, let Creative Distinctions make your next event or celebration creatively distinct. The store will initially be open Tuesday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (616) 481-3501 or stop in or visit online at

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