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Cologne woman hits plush pay dirt with tours for teddy bears

DDP/The Local · 5 Aug 2010, 13:18

Published: 05 Aug 2010 13:18 GMT+02:00

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“It sounds crazy to many,” said trained retail saleswoman Ulrike Böhmler, admitting that she has always had a certain affection for stuffed animals.

She still has her first stuffed bear, a gift from her grandmother worn ragged by 35 years of cuddling. For some people, such plush toys remain a sentimental object for an entire lifetime, she says.

This kind of love inspired the mother of two to start her own business three years ago when she suddenly found herself unemployed.

“Back then I said in jest that I would offer teddy bear tours if I couldn’t find anything,” she said, explaining that a friend in Munich had put her up to the idea.

But the joke turned into reality and she founded “Teddy-In,” which now offers trips for toys to Hamburg, Munich, Barcelona, Rome and even Romania where the animals can follow Dracula’s fictional footsteps.

Customers book via email or letter, then ship their stuffed animal to Böhmler, who says it can be “comical” when some boxes arrive with air holes punched into cartons for the inanimate toys. She then guides the toy on its holiday tour, taking photographs along the way.

When they return the animals are sent back to their owners refreshed and with a set of vacation photos to share.

Story continues below…

Böhmler’s toy travel agency is just one of several such businesses that have cropped up in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Venice and Prague.

“For many it’s a very original gift idea,” said Karsten Morschett from Teddy Tour Berlin. “Lots of people can no longer take trips on their own due to health problems and send their teddy on holiday instead.”

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:04 August 5, 2010 by dcgi
That's a good way to see the world yourself while getting a bunch of sados to pay it all for you.
15:05 August 5, 2010 by Clapoti
Yeah that's what I was thinking about... I'll do that too if I become unemployed :P
18:01 August 5, 2010 by NYsteve
I just "acquired the rights" to start a franchise here in the US...New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Seattle, Las Vegas (for the bears who are compulsive gamblers)....LOL!!!!!!!
18:35 August 5, 2010 by snorge
And they say people in the bad European economy have no money ?
11:50 August 6, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Now here's a ripoff scam story that should warm the cockles of the entrepreneurial heart.
23:36 August 6, 2010 by mikecowler
I wonder if in German holiday tradition teddy takes a towel to put on his sun lounger at 5am in the morning?? And lets not forget socks with sandals with the smallest pair of tanga brief swimming trunks, with the 1970,s style porno moustoush, the sterotype male German wears on holiday....always worthy of entertainment to us Europeans on holiday from other countries...
15:11 August 7, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This adds new meaning to the term "living vicariously." Jesus H. Christ.
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