My story starts more than twenty years ago.
It was nineteen ninety-seven. The Chicago Bulls were at their peak. Bike shorts were considered high fashion. Everything was great.
I was in the fourth grade. Still living at home, obviously. I went to school one day and all of the kids were gathered around my classmate, Patty Schimcox. She was holding a soft little stuffed animal in her hands.
“It’s called a beanie baby,” she said, “and they’re really hard to get. My mom found me one yesterday.”
The second I saw it, I knew I had to have one. Patty’s was a little green frog named Legs. He had big eyes and was soft and cute. He even had a little poem on the tag.
Culture and a little friend, all for the low low price of five ninety-nine? It was too good to be true.
When I got home, I tossed my backpack onto the couch. “Mom!” I yelled. “I have to have a beanie baby!”
My mom came into the room, wiping her hands on her apron. “What’s that?” She said.
“Patty Schimcox has a beanie baby and it’s super cute and everyone at school thinks so and I want one, too.” The words rushed out of my mouth. “Can we go right now?”
“Sure,” she said. “The pizza dough has to rise, anyway.”
Mom drove to the local toy superstore. I ran up to the counter. The lady working there had crazy colors in her hair and a little ring around one of her nostrils. She was kind of scary. At that moment, I totally forgot what I was going to say.
Luckily, Mom was there to help me. “We’re looking for beanie babies,” she told the lady behind the desk.
“We don’t sell them,” the lady said. I wondered how she blew her nose with that ring in there. “You can only get them at little toy shops,” she continued. “They won’t sell them here.”
I was disappointed as we left. But Mom surprised me. “Let’s head down to The Cat’s Meow,” she said. “They have a few stuffed animals there, maybe they have some.”
“But Mom,” I said. “What about the pizza dough?”
“It’ll be fine,” she said. “The longer it rises, the better.”
I think she felt bad for me because I had gotten my first period at school the week before and bled through my shorts. I came home crying because Carl Martin had made fun of me in front of the whole class. It totally scared me. I wasn’t about to say no to a good beanie baby hunt.
I had never been to The Cat’s Meow before. It was quiet and dark in there. It was the complete opposite of what it was like going to the chain store. As my mom went up to the counter to talk to the owner, I saw a basket on display. It was full of beanie babies.
“Mom!” I called. My voice sounded loud in the hushed store. A lady looked up from her Precious Moments figurine with a scowl on her face.
I tried again. “Mom,” I said, much quieter this time. “Here they are!”
There were two that appealed to me. One was a red bull, as the Chicago Bulls. Remember when I told you they were winning championships like crazy back then? The other was a little teddy bear with a sweet face.
“It’s all right,” my mom said. “You can get both.”
While the owner was ringing me up, he started talking about beanie babies. “They’re really a sensation,” he explained. “I tell everyone who comes in here looking for one that they should get them while they can. They’re from this new local company, and it won’t be long before everyone is trying to get in on it.
“You see, they only make so many of each kind of animal,” the owner said. “Nobody knows when they’re going to retire one. It makes them very valuable.”
And those were the magic words. My mother got a look in her eyes that wouldn’t go away for more than two years. She had beanie fever.
We started driving all over the state looking for rare beanies. We found them in hospital gift shops and in candy stores. It started as a thing for us to do together, and it wasn’t long before Mom was calling all around the country looking for rare stuffed animals to buy.
“It’s an investment,” she said. “We’re going to be able to sell them and send you to college one day, you just wait and see.” Click here to learn more about economic bubbles.
Well, if you’re of a certain age, you probably already know what happened next. The stuffed animals were all the rage for two years. People started acting really crazy about them.
People stalked, intimidated, and harassed delivery drivers to get the first of a new shipment. One man in Appalachia even killed over beanie babies.
And then, almost in the blink of an eye, it was over.
I never thought that the little bean-filled creatures would see another payday like the one they had when I was young. So you can imagine my surprise when I went on TikTok one day and saw they were trending.
I still had several large storage tubs of them in my garage. I had thousands. I didn’t know why I held on to them so long, but now it was clear. It was time to sell them off.
I created a website and uploaded my stock. I was sure I would be sold out before long.
But it just didn’t happen. My site was too new. I wasn’t getting very many hits.
So I decided to contact a Manhattan SEO Company to see if they could help. I told them about my needs and before long, I was getting thousands of visitors a day.
My sales doubled, then doubled again. I was happy.