International Teddy Bear Day with Squishmallows Collector Katie Leach
SEATTLE – Collecting stuffed animals has been a hobby for individuals since the second half of the 1990s when Beanie Babies came about, however, there are new stuffed collectibles flying off the shelves called Squishmallows catching the attention of collectors around the world.
Children, teens, and adults have started to fall in love with these big squishy stuffed animals. Stores struggle to keep them stocked and vendors like eBay and Mercari have begun to sell them well above their worth.
Born in 2017, the Squishmallows website states the versatile stuffed animals were created to offer comfort, support, and warmth. Thus, sparking the craze to collect in the dark and drab year of 2020. Each Squishmallows has its own unique name and storyline detailing its unique traits giving collectors a storyline to the family they create over time.
Collecting is something that local Katie Leach started getting more into at the start of the pandemic, however, she got her first one in 2018.
“I really started collecting in December of 2020,” said Leach. “I stopped working due to the pandemic and it was something to keep busy and meet new people”.
Now, about a year and a half later, Leach mentioned that she has around 100 Squishmallows in total. Compared to the collectors that stay minimalist and only get certain styles that is quite a bit, however, Leach also knows individuals with about 6 times that amount.
With every collectible item, there are always a few you can pick out as your favorites. For Leach, with her Squishmallows, it would be a mushroom named Malcolm and a Bat named Emily.
Leach mentioned that there is a huge process that goes into collecting. You have to follow the stores that have Squismallows in stock on social media to stay up to date on inventory and much more.
“I call stores regularly, or make friends with the people who work there,” said Leach. “You have to be kind to them. They really appreciate it because there are some crazy people out there who do the most for a stuffed animal”.
With certain areas being bigger than others, it is easier for some individuals to grow their collections. Shelf clearing and reselling for aftermarket prices are big in every collecting community, making Squishmallows a rarity in some areas.
There are two Squismallows in particular that have been on Leach’s dream list for her collection, however, she has never seen them in any of her local stores forcing Leach to believe they may just be a figment of imagination.
Facebook groups and other forms of social media have been a great outlet for Leach to trade with people for fair prices, sell her own Squishmallows, as well as, meet the community. With individuals around the U.S and abroad fixated on collecting the squishy animals, there is a wide variety of individuals. This creates a fun and lighthearted community for collectors to enjoy.
Moving forward, Leach wants to become more minimalist within her collection and is looking to trade some of her collection away and downsize to the ones she loves the most.
Follow along with Leach’s Squishmallows collecting adventures on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/squeeshybean/