We’re a company with heart. That’s what we always say. But what does that mean? Does it mean we care about giving back? Does it mean we love our jobs? Does it mean we have lots of love to give? The answer is yes to all of those, but it also means something more, something that really speaks to the root of our company and what is important to us.
You know those little satin and plaid hearts you put in your furry friends? We’ve had those forever. Even though they looked a little different, they were still part of the process from the very beginning. But we never realized the power of the hearts until a few weeks after opening our first store at the St. Louis Galleria. The store had been beary busy from the start. A phone call came in at the end of the day, right before the weekend. “We’re running out of hearts.” The manager on the line said they had become so popular that they probably wouldn’t have enough to last the weekend.
“I could see why we were running out of hearts,” said Marilyn Freundlich, Director of Bear Necessities at the time. “Every time I was in the store I would see grandmothers putting in three or four hearts, one for each of their grandchildren.”
Because we had initially planned for only one heart for each furry friend, and our Guests were finding many reasons to add love to their furry friends, it was obvious why we were running low after only a few weeks of business. We couldn’t order more because they would take weeks to come in. The only option was to find more hearts STAT.
“When I got the call, I just started calling every place in the city to see where we could get more,” said Jill Saunders, Director of Public Relations. “Because it was not an easy thing to describe over the phone, and the internet wasn’t what it is today, we eventually just started driving around the entire bi-state area like mad, trying to find what we could!”
Eventually, after hours of searching, hearts were found that would work. Some were different sizes, but so were our bears at the time, so it worked out perfectly.
“I remember sitting in a circle on Friday evening at the office. Everyone was just sorting out all the ones we had found and selecting the hearts that would work,” Marilyn said.
“It was really a collaboration and we all had to do it together or we never would have found them,” Jill said. “But that’s how we’ve always worked: together.”
After a huge effort by everyone, the weekend was saved, and our Guests were still able to add as many hearts as they wanted to their new furry friends. We truly are a company with heart. The heart represents what is so important to our Guest experience, it represents the part of the process that changes the animal from being just a stuffed animal, to a new best friend, and we would never want to change that.
Have you ever added more than one heart to your furry friend? Do you remember how making the wish on your favorite furry friend’s heart made you feel? What do those little satin hearts mean to you?
-Molly Saunders, Digital Community Bear