SHELBURNE - A rock-solid Vermont icon is apparently not immune from the ongoing, worldwide economic slump. According to a news announcement last week, Vermont Teddy Bear Co. is laying off 35 people and will close a popular retail store in Waterbury. The store closing will occur before the end of January.
The Shelburne-based toy manufacturer said the layoffs will occur at Shelburne and Newport operations as well as the Waterbury outlet.
Bob Crowley, chairman of the board, told reporters last week that while the business had strong sales during December 2008, the layoffs and closing were deemed necessary to sustain the company. A leaner operations means Vermont Teddy bear will be better positioned when good times return - and they will return, as most experts agree, probably by late 2009.
Vermont Teddy Bear's handmade teddy bears are among the top-rated toys in the world. The toy animals are manufactured using strict controls and safe materials. High quality and solid value make the product one of the most recognized of Vermont's exports.
A large collector's aftermarket has grown up around the various teddy bear models made by the company. Many of the bears have become family "heirlooms" and are often found on pricey eBay auctions held on the Internet.