Boyds Bears coming to Pigeon Forge
The Boyds Bears Job Fair was held on Wednesday Aug. 25 at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge. Over 200 people stopped by to get information about the new store, which will open in November.
Pigeon Forge will be one of two Boyds Bears retail stores in the country. About 150 people will be hired to work in the Boyds Bear Country, which will have three floors of collectibles. There will be a food court on the lower floor, plus a sit-down restaurant, a bakery and a deli.
The Boyds Collection Ltd. began in 1979 as an antique shop in the home of Gary Lowenthal and his wife Justina in Boyds, Md.
Their love of antiques outweighed their ability to purchase, so instead of antiques with high costs, Gary and Justina began to search out and sell antique reproductions with the look and feel of true antiques, but with lower prices. Their retail venture proved to be so successful that by 1982 they began to wholesale some of these top-selling antique reproductions.
Some of the most successful wholesale items were their duck decoys that ranged from 9” Teal to a giant 3’ Whistling Swan. Their expanding wholesale product line soon grew to encompass wool teddy bears imported from China.
In 1984, Gary designed a fully jointed 100 percent merino wool Teddy Bear named for his son, Matthew. In doing so he developed what would soon become a part of The Boyds Collection—the designs known simply as Boyds Bears.
The company expanded beyond the Lowenthals’ home in Boyds to an old Sunday school building down the street. In 1987, the Lowenthals relocated the firm to Gettysburg, Penn.
Almost three years ago they opened the first retail store, a 110,000 square-foot barn filled with about 70,000 assorted items, mostly bears.
“Based on the success of the store in Gettysburg, the company decided to open more of those types of facilities,” said Will Edwards, store manager for the Pigeon Forge location. “Pigeon Forge being the great tourist location, we felt that it was a perfect place to go.”
Edwards said there have already been quite a few inquiries about the new store. “We have a strong, loyal customer base,” he said.
“The huge number of tourists is really what attracted us to this area,” he said. “Additionally, the local business and government officials have been great and welcoming.”
“It’s exciting because it will be the first location outside of our home turf,” said Edwards. “We feel
really excited and we’re very, very optimistic. It should be fun.”
The store will be on Cates Lane in Pigeon Forge between traffic lights nine and 10.