Neighborhood resident Laura Collins, 34, has never lost her childhood love for teddy bears. There are teddy bears in every room of her house, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom. In fact, her guest room is solely devoted to her collection.
“I’ve always loved teddy bears,” Collins says. “One of the first Christmas gifts my husband bought me was a teddy bear. My mother used to call me ‘Pooh Bear’ when I was little.”
But Collins doesn’t just collect for herself, she collects as a business.
Specifically, Collins buys and sells VanderBears, a 5-member teddy bear family made by the North American Bear Co. based in Chicago. These stuffed animals can sell for thousands of dollars each based on their condition, Collins says.
Collins also publishes a newsletter, “Bear Prints,” for other VanderBear collectors. She publishes four times annually for about 300 subscribers in the United States and Canada. She even has subscribers in Australia and Singapore, she says.
The newsletter (subscriptions are $10 a year) and the Internet keep Collins connected to the bear-buying market and her bear-collecting friends, she says.
Collins first started collecting in 1992 while accompanying her husband, who owns a home-grown investment company, on a business trip to San Francisco. While he was in meetings, she went shopping.
She was in FAO Schwarz toy store when she was drawn to the Muffy bear, the baby and most popular member of the VanderBear family, Collins says.
After her initial purchase, she discovered that her Muffy bear, like a Barbie doll, had its own wardrobe. And that there were several other versions of the Muffy bear.
Today, Collins owns every Muffy bear made, except for the original Christmas Muffy released in 1985, which sells for more than $1,400 in mint condition, she says. This bear sold for $18 originally, Collins says.
Her husband, Craig, has encouraged her to invest in the VanderBears by buying bears to keep and identical bears to save and sell when the market value increases, Collins says.
You can reach Collins at P.O. Box 824522, Dallas 75382.