By Brian Johnsrud
All beanies will be retired as of December 31, 1999 flashed on the Ty Inc. website, then gravely disappeared as fast as it came, puzzling thousands of anxious beanie baby collectors. Could it be that Ty Warner is calling it quits in the beanie business, or does he have a trick up his sleeve to spark the fading industry?
In 1994, Ty Inc. started out in a small town in Illinois, and now has matured to one of the most successful toy industries in history. Ty has introduced approximately 260 different cuddly animals, from cows to dragons, to bears and orangutans. People of all ages have joined in the collecting frenzy for these small, pellet filled animals. Although, it wasnt until about two years after they had been introduced when Ty Warner started retiring beanies and introducing new ones, making high-priced collectors items. Selling for around $5 each, these inexpensive beanies quickly grew in value, with the everlasting race to catch them before they retired. One beanie baby Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant currently is valued at $4,200!
Success immediately engulfed the industry. Starting at $1.7 million in 1995, the companys revenue hurdled to a breath-taking $674 million by last year, according to the NPD Group Inc. Proving some of their success, Ty Warner recently purchased New Yorks Four Seasons hotel last year for $275 million, and also donated a desk full of beanie babies to Rosie ODonnels charity auctions on Ebay. Although, maybe one of Ty Inc. largest contributions has been to small businesses such as drug stores and flower shops all over the nation. Not supplying to any major businesses, Ty has targeted humble, independently owned stores for the fad that is sweeping the nation.
Beanies have kept some businesses alive. They wouldnt still be in business without them, enthusiastic collector Brenda Skornogoski said Monday.
With the threat of Ty Inc. no longer holding the torch for the beanie phenomenon, many businesses are crossing their fingers.
Is Ty Warner just saying out with the old, and in with the new for the upcoming millennium? If so, is America ready to say goodbye to one of the hottest fads of the 90s?
I just think their coming out with new versions, Skornogoski said, with different tags and styles...
Keeping it going until possibly the end, Ty Inc. plans to fill the shelves with more creations before the end of the year. Already he has designed more innovative creatures, including Ty 2kand Chipper the chipmunk. Also on the Ty Inc. website he announced a new bear ominously named The End.