Every now and then we kind of stumble across shops that we’re immediately drawn to – and Alice’s Bear Shop is one. Last year when we stayed at Devon Cliffs we did a day trip into Dorset, and found the shop while wandering around.
Now you’re probably thinking a teddy bear shop doesn’t sound very grand, but if I was to tell you that in the back of the shop there’s a Teddy Bear Hospital – where you can take your old bears to be repaired, you’re getting the picture.
There’s SO much more though. Rikey Austin started Alice’s Bear Shop a long time ago, and has written and illustrated several books about bears which over the last year have become some of H’s favourites. In fact, on stepping into the store you can find all sorts – with a teddy reference in there somewhere. I have now touched a teddy which sells for £50!
Rikey herself has a story to tell – which has recently finished being filmed in the form of a documentary – she’s hoping her story will inspire others to give it a go – and she is a really inspirational lady. We chatted about bears, and how she doesn’t want to make lots of money – that all she wants is her bears to be loved (as teddies should be!) – it isn’t about spending lots of money buying the latest teddy, it’s about finding a teddy you love and treasuring it forever.
I like that way of thinking – the only way I could understand it was by putting it to my experiences with my job I have now – I was buying the records in my teenage years and here I am working for the same companies – I’ll never be rich, but I’m working amongst something I know I love. If you’re doing that, you’ll get what Rikey is doing too.
This Sunday we picked up two more bear books, as well as a t-shirt and print – the print is set to be framed and put on H’s wall (with the big reorganisation of her room), and I love how she knows the names of all the bears (and knows enough letters to work out which bear is which when she isn’t sure). The Tilly book is set to be released in hardback quite soon; towards the end of the year; and Rikey is going to be doing a signing in London – we’ll have more news when it happens.
What is it that attracted us to Alice’s Bear Shop? Seeing the hospital reminded me of my childhood – these days toys don’t get repaired, they’re disposed of and a new one bought – and as we try to move into a better ecological way of life this kind of thing is important – you don’t stop loving a toy when it gets worn out – but how many Teddy Bear Hospitals are there these days?
The books too – they’re all lovely stories all based around Alice whose mother mends bears. Alice has a special power in that she can talk to the various bears and often rescues them or finds out what they’re trying to do. The stories are charming and once upon a time each bear in the story had their own toy equivalent – those days are over though.
There’s more than that too – Rikey has illustrated some Brainbox Memory Cards in the last year – we bought the teddy set for H for her birthday (which arrived just in time!) and there’s a new set featuring fairies which are available now. I’m holding out for Rikey’s ‘bad fairies’ collection personally!!
If you’re visiting Lyme Regis, you can find Alice’s Bear Shop at 55 Broad Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3QF. We went on a Sunday when they were open until 5pm, but you can phone to check at 01297 444589. There’s parking nearby (which was full when we went) and a larger car park at the top of the hill which makes it a ten minute walk, tops.
Please pop by and visit – if you’re someone who has ever loved a teddy you’ll get this shop – and in fact if you still have your teddy and it needs a repair, why not get it checked into hospital? It might take a few days, but you can pick up or have it posted back to you once it’s mended. We love it!