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Yes, I'm familiar with Beanie Babies.


I’d forgotten about Beanie Babies, but a new movie is rectifying that. I have no intention of watching the movie.


I’d forgotten how grown adults went through the McDonald’s drive-through to order happy meals just to get the mini Beanie Babies and then throw out the food and go through again and again until they got what they wanted.


What a waste.


I still have a couple of Beanies, I suppose—a Christmas bear who comes out with the Christmas decorations, maybe a brown bear that’s wearing a frog suit—I can’t quite remember. There’s Rover, a red dog in two sizes, because if you want to have red rover send people over, you have to cover all your bases.


But I used to have the “rare” or retired1 ones because I worked in a store that was licensed to sell them and we were allowed to buy some at regular retail prices, as employees, if we wanted.


(I say regular retail price because either some stores were raising the prices “illegally” or they were allowed to; I can’t remember what the Ty policy was, though I assume there was a standard price and that price gouging wasn’t allowed. Though for some reason…I think we did price some of the “rare” ones higher.)


I cannot explain how weird it was to watch grown women rushing the boxes, grabbing the “rare” ones first, grabbing some for adult friends. Even stranger was how people in town followed the UPS truck so they knew when it arrived at the back of the store. Our phones would start ringing at that moment.


“Did you get any Beanie Babies in today?”


“Which Beanies came in?”


“Did you get the Princess Di bear?”


“Did you get the _____?”


I can’t even remember what the “rare” ones were, frankly, but I sure got tired of answering the phone.


PEOPLE WERE FOLLOWING THE UPS TRUCK TO THE STORE.


Creepy.


We’d have to stop work every day to go through the shelves of the store to see what beanies we had and then get back on the phone to answer questions. People called from all over the nation, trying to find the “rare” beanies. We had to package and ship them all over.


I ignored it for a while because it seemed a little silly. But then Ebay called out to me and at the end, just before I left that job, I would get the beanies as they’d come in and then re-sell them.


Sort of.


Those toys took up too much room and some of them weren’t all that cute.


That summer, after I was done working at the shop, I took nearly all of my beanie babies with me on a missions trip to Nicaragua and gave them to kids. The first thing they did was tear the Ty tag off which would cause true Beania fanatics to freak because that would DESTROY THEIR VALUE. That purple Princess Di bear went to some dirt-floor hut and just as well.


The kids saw them as just another fun toy, nothing special, nothing collectible, nothing you could sell on Ebay for hundreds of dollars.


WHICH IS WHAT THEY WERE, REALLY.


Shortly before Nicaragua, Ty announced they were ending beanie babies and they really should have actually stuck to their guns on that because that would have been a more glorious ending. They released the “ultra rare” final collectible ending bear, one people were killing themselves to get, and I got one and it’s probably in a landfill down in Nicaragua somewhere.


Of course, Ty didn’t stop.


“Due to popular demand…” and out they came with more Beanie Babies except this time they changed the style a bit, put more detail on the feet, and just like previous examples of basing your currency and value on something flighty like tulips or the Federal Reserve’s whimsy or toys, their value crashed.


People were left with plastic tubs of these toys. I’m guessing more than one person has had to deal with them after the death of a mother, wondering how much money she spent on toys she never played with or looked at.


I can’t judge too hard.


We all like to collect things to some degree, things that don’t serve any purpose, really, other than being able to say “I have them all!”


I collected stamps for years. Plastic digital Jurassic Park watches that came with Burger King kids’ meals. Disney glasses from McDonald's. From grade 1 to grade 10, I had a killer Garfield collection. Grandma insisted I collect bells, though I never understood why.


(Uh, I collect Hardy Boys’ books and I ALMOST HAVE THEM ALL.)


The way things are going, I don’t see why we don’t have a Beanie Baby-backed U.S. dollar. It’s just as viable at this point in time.


 

1 Nothing drives prices up like scarcity.

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