Who knows what real bears are filled with? Honey? Berries? Salmon caught mid-leap from some brisk Alaskan river? Teddy bears are even harder to figure out; there could be anything in there, and it’s virtually impossible to find out what it is—unless you make the bear yourself.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- BEAR IN MIND : Sandy Regoli brings bears—and other creatures—to events where kids of all ages can add the stuffing themselves.
Sandy Regoli’s new business, dubbed “bears by the beach,” puts bear creation in the hands of the very kids who’ll be cuddling, carrying around, sleeping next to, talking to, dressing up, and otherwise playing with their new toys. And it’s not just kids. She said boyfriends will make them for girlfriends and parents will make them for children.
Regoli opened an Arroyo Grande storefront in December, but quickly discovered that foot traffic pales in comparison to groups that ask her to bring the process to them. So she’ll be shutting the physical doors at the end of March, but she’ll keep the business rolling in a new, more flexible form.
Aside from a 600-pound stuffing machine, the enterprise is portable, and Regoli can bring bears to Parks and Rec department events and private parties alike. Think birthdays and end-of-school-year celebrations.
Once she arrives, the process is simple: Guests first choose from a variety of furs and skins, and bears are hardly the only menu item. Regoli carries stacks of cats, dogs, horses, cows, frogs, ducks, sea monsters, penguins, rabbits, crocodiles, tigers, and dragons.
“I don’t care for the dragons,” she said, “but the boys seem to like them.”
Participants next hand-stuff the empty animal, rounding it out. Adults on hand ensure the stuffing makes it all the way to the ends of the arms and legs.
Then it’s time to accessorize. Regoli sells outfits for the critters, which can cheer on local teams (while there’s no branding, you can find outfits in A.G. and Cal Poly colors), play a multitude of sports themselves, show off in swimsuits, choose a profession (construction, doctor, nurse, chef, police officer, etc.), rule as royalty, or lounge in jammies, robes, or boxers. There are even strawberry outfits to coordinate with Arroyo Grande’s festival devoted to the favored fruit.
When the whole process is done, the creator gets a birth certificate with the name of his or her creation and its birth date.
“I see children of all ages walking away as if they’ve got their best friends with them,” Regoli said.
She doesn’t charge anything for showing up; she makes money off of the bears and outfits she sells. The animals themselves cost $20 each, and clothes and accessories run from $5 to $15, she said.
There are bear-stuffing events planned for April 4 and July 28. For more information about upcoming opportunities, contact the Arroyo Grande Parks and Recreation Department.
bears by the beach is located (until March 31) at 405 E. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande. For more information, or to contact Regoli after she goes shopless, call 1-509-947-9220 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get a free rapid Hepatitis C test on April 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center Auditorium, 1010 Murray Ave. in San Luis Obispo. Set up an appointment by calling 543-4372.
Executive Editor Ryan Miller compiled this week’s Strokes. Send business or nonprofit news to email@example.com.