The world is a scary place, even now that I’m an adult. As a child, I had my mom to insulate me from the vagaries of bureaucratic nonsense and teachers who hated children. I had Saturday morning cartoons and professional wrestling to insulate me from the horrors of the news cycle. Better, there was no Internet, so I didn’t have to be bombarded with all of man’s inhumanity to men every second of the day. I had teachers who explored the beauty of literature, which protected me from succumbing to the numerous scams and conspiracy theories that are evermore present. Still, there was one time when the world was at its scariest. Night would fall, and I would be in my bed in the dark. Even there, I had my protectors: an elite fighting force of stuffed animals watched over and protected me while I slept.Continue reading Stuffed Animals Protected Me when I Slept
Who is our competition? What problems are they solving? What benefits are they offering?
I feel like these questions are really putting us in the position of Scrooge as he struggled against the Ghost of Christmas while trying to bonnet it. If it could be called a struggle when one side puts all his effort and might into overcoming the other, who is utterly unaffected by such exertions. Put me in the 100-yard dash with Usain Bolt, and I still don’t think he would call me competition.
Steiff Teddy Bears and Other Animals
So, is our competition Steiff?
Founded in 1880, Steiff is the world’s premier manufacturer of high-end toys and collectibles. Indeed, Steiff is the only “luxury” toy brand in the marketplace today. Internationally renowned for its exceptional quality, Steiff still utilizes traditional materials and proven manufacturing techniques to create its unique and highly prized products.Steiff USA website.
Are they the only luxury toy brand in the marketplace as they claim? They use traditional materials and exceptional quality. What are the problems they are solving and benefits they are offering? They are soft, attractively priced, and from the original teddy bear company. Steiff is basically selling entrance into their exclusivity club and the ability of stuffed animals to return adults to the happier days of childhood. (A $1,295 Winnie the Pooh is labeled as for adults only.) They reach the children with animals around $20. Steiff sells nostalgia, collectability, and investment. Your children deserve the best; Steiff proclaims itself the best and has a history and collector base to back that claim. Steiff’s powerful commercial shows a teddy bear protecting a child from the dark.
Gotta Get a Gund
Founded in 1898, Gund had commercials in the 1980s. They were selling love and playfulness. Nowadays, they’re selling comfort, play, magic, heritage, quality, surprise, imagination, and love. Gund’s website sells bravery and love. Their products are huggable, and the company has been around for more than 100 years (like Steiff). Gund has stuffed animals under $10 and focuses more on their animals’ child friendliness vs. Steiff’s collectability, though both talk about how long their toys will last and are selling their heirloom status.
Ty, Inc. and Beanie Babies
Ty is the #1 plush manufacturer in the world (according to their job listings). Their Beanie Babies were so popular that Teenie Beanie Babies were featured in McDonald’s Happy Meals. People collected them throughout the 1990s, with some having thousands in their collection. Ty has capitalized on the lower income markets and built market share through their products appeal to people who don’t have a lot of money to spend on Steiff or even Gund. With a $2 Happy Meal, you get a Beanie Baby! That’s a pretty price point for anyone who’s hungry or has children; it’s also a way to get loyal customers for life. They are offering play and love as part of their Beanie Baby package! They push the collectibles a bit further by offering surprise toys in a series. The toys are hidden in a box, so you don’t know which one you’re going to get.
The common theme for these companies is love. After all, how can you not love a stuffed animal. They make great friends, they are fun to play with, and they provide security to younger people. Being huggable is an important part of being a plushie.
Our penguins are soft, cuddly, and fun. Their wings move, and they’re handmade, so every one of them is unique. Their expressions change based on how your emotions and how you perceive what they are doing. Even just standing on a shelf, our penguins speak volumes and tell a story that your heart needs to hear. You adopt our penguins; you don’t buy them.
So, our we competitors to these larger companies? We offer something none of them can compete with. Our stuffed animals are handmade with love. My wife makes them. There’s no large factory involved in our basic penguins. If you order one with clothes, those are handmade as well. Only some of the accessories, like buttons, may be purchased. Each animal is different because the eyes are hand-embroidered. Each set of eyes is designed and sewn differently. And the eyes are the window to the soul.
If you haven’t met Pear Penguin, yet, be ready for a dose of cuteness. Pear Penguin loves fall weather, colored leaves, and fresh fruit – (and fish!) Pear made me type that last part. Pear’s puffy belly always looks full, but it’s really Pear’s heart that is full of love for you.
Pear is looking for a forever family. As one of the few plush black and white penguins available for adoption, Pear is sure to add joy and friendship to your life or the life of someone you care about. Once the adoption fees are taken care of, Pear can be shipped worldwide.
Pear has been listening to Patch and taking Patch’s advice to heart. At about 6 and ¾ inches, Pear is the perfect size to take with you wherever you go.
Pear may be our newest penguin, but we have plenty of other penguins waiting for adoption. For every penguin adopted, $1 goes to the Global Penguin Society. Order your penguin today and have it in time for the holidays. (Only good through October 15 and while supplies last.)
My first friend was my dog Reggie. He was a beautiful, loyal German Shepherd who would listen to me, play with me and was always there for me. I lost Reggie when we had to move to the projects in California. They don’t allow poor people to have pets, and Reggie would’ve been too big for our apartment.
In the third grade, I had a girl-friend. Everyone joked that we were destined to get married. She had long brown hair and was, ew, a girl. Still, we were friends who spent recesses and lunch together.
In fifth and sixth grades, I reached the height of my childhood popularity. I knew a lot of people with whom I was friends. Many of them showed up for my birthday party at Marine World Africa, USA – a story I wrote up (with an account of Reggie) in “My Life in the Projects.”
In sixth grade, I had an actual girlfriend. Girls weren’t so “ew” by that time. I also had a couple of friends that I regularly played Dungeons and Dragons with. They were upset when we had to move to Oregon to get away from the violence in the projects.
A father and son lived caddy-corner from us in the projects. They were older than me, but we were still friends, even after we moved. I played chess and watched anime with the father. The son and I kept in touch until after I graduated from high school. We played a role-playing game that he made up to entertain me. I lost touch with them when I went to college.
Even before all of my human friends and about the same time as Reggie, I had a group of friends and protectors who kept me safe in the dark of nights and provided solace in the darkest of times. My stiffed animals were fun to be around, and they could always go with me, no matter where we moved. They were steadfast, loyal, and some told amazing jokes.
I haven’t kept in touch with my childhood friends. We’ve grown apart – separated by time, distance, and experiences, even in this electronically and virtually connected world – and that’s on me. I have, however, kept my stuffed animal friends, tucked away in a box somewhere, waiting for me to bring them back into my life, to enjoy the sunshine and the laughter of an old man they still see as the child that once was. Until I am able to, until I have the space to house them, I’ll keep collecting plushie friends from the amazing penguins my wife hand makes to the multiple examples of Olaf the Snowman. And when I am finally able to bring them all together, we’ll have an epic party to celebrate our friendship.
For every penguin that gets adopted, we will donate $1 to the Global Penguin Society!