One thing that never seems to go out of style are stuffed animals. Rag dolls representing people and animals date back to Roman times, but the modern version of a stuffed animal did not come around until 1880, when Steiff, a German toy company, reinvented this category of toys. The realistic looking animals with plush fur-like fabric were an instant hit.
The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company copied this success in the United States and, in 1902, their success exploded with the creation of the Teddy Bear, inspired by a story of President Theodore Roosevelt sparing the life of a defenseless black bear while on a hunting trip.
Stuffed toys have been good to us and we are always on the lookout for realistic looking, cute and cuddly animals. And some of our best sellers tend to be the more unusual animals – armadillos, bats, marmots, possums, skunks, squirrels, etc. It seems that everyone already has a bear, a moose and a wolf and while they are not poor sellers, they are easily trounced by the more esoteric members of the animal kingdom.
At the Rocky Mountain Gift Show we met with our suppliers from Stuffed Animal House, Northern Gifts, Fiesta Toy and Wild Republic to talk about product lines and upcoming releases. There is always churn in manufacturer offerings and we pick up the more interesting animals to help them find new homes.
Looking to find an animal companion with low maintenance needs? Come look at our collection!
Stuffed Animal House offers a wide variety of North American wildlife.
Northern Gifts is the king of novelty Canned Critters.
Northern Gifts will be adding new faces to their Canned Critters line in the next few months.
Zoltar the Fortune Teller – we were offered no proof that Zoltar has magical powers.
There’s a little bit of a retro trend that we’re seeing in the market this year, including gifts and collectibles reflective of the 50s and 60s, Victorian style furniture, a bit more lace in clothes. It’s not a huge wave of change by far, but there’s certainly something about nostalgia out there.
Nostalgia also included movie memorabilia, ranging from modern day blockbusters to old classics and a lot of big names in between. Hollywood is definitely not dead when it comes to merchandising, even if movie ticket sales have been trending down. Star Wars was huge this year. And Frozen is still very popular.
There’s also a lot of humor coming up in signage. Art prints and posters in 2’ by 3’ size are more prominent and are definitely designed to make you stop, read and laugh.
Send More Tourists
Every Bite You Take
There’s also more nontraditional statuary art out there. Oversized, uncommon materials, but without a doubt, trending popular themes.
We don’t normally carry the unusual merchandise you see in this post, but if you fall in love with any of the wackadoodle items you see, just give us a yell. We know people.
We head out to merchandise and consumer shows on a regular basis to see what’s trending in the market and what manufacturers are getting ready for the coming season. One of our favorite shows is the Rocky Mountain Gift Show, not only because it’s local, but also because of the broad cross spectrum of the retail market that it attracts.
Rocky Mountain Gift Show
The Rocky Mountain Gift Show brings together retail, tourism, jewelry, gift markets, home goods, apparel and many other specialty niches. The fare ranges from things you’re afraid to touch to things you’re afraid to put down. And that’s really the excitement of the market. Not everyone wants taxidermied still life or human-sized animatronic manikins, but there’s also plenty of cute and cuddly that spans the show, as well as down to Earth and functional.
Saturday night the show hosts a banquet for all buyers and exhibitors, showcasing the fashions for the coming season.
Season fashions, courtesy of the Denver Mart.
The show is five days long. It can probably stand to be a few days longer. It’s hard to hit all of the vendors in this short a time. We’ll show off some of the cool stuff we’ve seen in the next few days.