In Shelburne Vermont, Teddy bears are the name of the game.
In 1981, John Sortino was playing with his son Graham and his collection of teddy bears. Surprised to see that every one of his son’s bears wore a tag identifying it as foreign made, Sortino was inspired to bring this American tradition back to its roots by handcrafting bears right here. His first bears, Bearcho, Buffy, Bearazar, and Fuzzy Wuzzy, were made in his wife’s sewing room and sold mostly to friends. By 1983, Sortino began to sell his bears from a peddler’s cart at an open-air market in Burlington, Vermont. It took four days to sell his first bear and a year to sell 200.
One day, a customer gave him a terrific idea. A tourist visiting Burlington wanted a bear, but she wanted it mailed to her home. That gave Sortino the idea to package a teddy bear and add delivery service and other extras to go along with it. The Bear-Gram® concept was born. Sales and success followed the Company as it grew from its humble beginnings to become a major competitor in the direct response gift delivery business. In 1992 Inc. Magazine recognized The Vermont Teddy Bear Company as the 80th fastest growing private Company in the United States. By 1993 the Company ranked 58th.
Today, more than 150,000 people a year visit the Vermont Teddy Bear Company to find out how a teddy bear is made from scratch, and to make their own teddy bear in the Make A Friend for Life® Cubhouse or select one already made and dressed in the Bear Shop.
The Company believes it makes the best bears in the Universe because every bear is lovingly designed, cut, sewn, stuffed, and stitched in Vermont. The Bears are alive with personality and attitude and they help people connect in a fun, personal and meaningful way.