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Monday, June 5, 2017

Bear With Us

Recently we took a road trip to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our 1st date and posted highlights here

What wasn't shown was our trip to "bear" country, not to see live bears — but teddy bears.




Vermont Teddy Bear Company is now the largest U.S. teddy bear manufacturer with an output of 150,000 bears annually. It began in the 1980s when a Vermont resident, John Sortino, found that his children’s stuffed toys, including teddy bears, were non-USA made. Working from his garage, he stitched together a bear and named it “Bearcho,” (an ode to Groucho Marx). Sortino later added movable body parts, re-naming the bear “Buddy.”
During the first year, he sold 200 bears from an outdoor market in Burlington, Vermont. When a visiting tourist asked to have one sent to her home, he added packaging and mailing bears and created the "Bear-Gram." It featured a customized teddy bear placed in a box (complete with "air hole"). Today, bears are still packaged this way.

Sortino opened a factory in 1985, followed a decade later by the facility we visited in Shelburne, Vermont. Another factory is in Newport. Each bear consists of 20 parts and 14 layers of fur. There are various stations along its path to completion, such as the Sewing Station, where parts are stitched inside-out to hide the seams and the Stuffing Station, where, a machine shoots recycled bottle fillings into the bear at 100 mph. 


Not only are all teddy bears assembled in Vermont, but most of the component materials come from America as well; the bear "fur" is made in Wisconsin. The eyes of every bear contain the phrase “Born in Vermont” as does a rear tag.
Each bear comes with a lifetime guarantee and will be repaired or replaced, at any time, as long as the tag on the bear’s rear is identifiable. Injured bears go to the Bear Hospital for treatment. If the injury is too serious, the bear will be replaced. During our factory tour, we saw several bear "tragedies" including burned when used as a pot holder, chewed by a dog, melted in the dryer, and run over by a lawn mower. 
We met the "head" (or rather very large) bear" during our factory tour. And, we couldn't leave (actually we could have, but decided not to) and brought home our own teddy bear, who we named "Shelby."


15 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

What an unbearably fun and interesting post.

Momlady said...

So happy to know that there are still things made in this country. And to know that they are so forgiving of the mistreatment of the poor bears. If I'm ever in Vermont again I'll have to stop there. Happy Anniversary!

possum said...

Beary fun trip! A must stop on my next trip North!

Sandra said...

ha ha on the comment above about unbearably interesting. it is very interesting and your bear is adorable. poor bears in the hospital, my favorite part of the story

Emma Springfield said...

You chose a unique way to spend your anniversary. And now you are the proud parents of Shelby. Congratulations.

mamasmercantile said...

What a great way to spend your Anniversary, loved your new bear.

Lynn said...

What a perfectly lovely excursion! And what a nice company to repair errant bears.

Happy 20th!

Michelle said...

That looks like such fun!!

Connie said...

These bears are cute. That sounds like a fun trip.

The Furry Gnome said...

Still have my childhood teddy bear!

Denise inVA said...

Being a teddy bear lover this place would be on my list. Enjoyed seeing those cute photos. Glad you brought one home with you.

Mildred said...

A very interesting post about Vermont teddy bears and I am so happy you brought one home to remember your special anniversary.

Valerie said...

Bears are beautiful. I lost all my small ones when I 'grew up' but hubby won a HUGE bear at an auction which I still have. Now I don't know what to do with it. I'll try and remember to photograph him and but him on the blog.

William Kendall said...

What a fun place to visit!

baili said...

Ho sweet!!!
Loved the way you guys celebrated your anniversary .
Loved your happy smiles and these adorable bears!

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