The Bear Garden was opened on 2nd November 1992 in Jeffries Passage in Guildford by Andrew Colborne-Baber. Andrew graduated from the University of Wales with a degree in French and German, but without any clear idea of what he wanted to do. After turning down a couple of jobs in London, he started his own teddy bear business after searching Guildford for a decent bear, which he could give as a birthday present! Andrew is the youngest person ever to have opened a specialist teddy bear shop.
The Bear Garden is one of the UK's leading specialist teddy bear and soft toy shops. We are one of the UK’s top 5 stockists for world famous German manufacturer, Margarete Steiff GmbH. But this is only a part of the story, as we stock teddy bears and animals from all the major manufacturers (for example Charlie Bears, Merrythought, Teddy Hermann, Kosen and Jellycat), as well as beautiful work from many leading teddy bear artists from around the world.
The Bear Garden first went online in 1998. This was followed in 1999 by the launch of its secure online ordering service; a first for UK teddy bear shops. The website has evolved over the years into a trusted source for teddy bear collectors and general shoppers alike. In April 2015, the website was totally re-launched with a whole new look and lots of added features.
Well, we were the world’s leading organiser of trips to visit the soft toy factories in Germany. We ran a couple of trips each year since the very first trip in 2002. Our trips always took in The World of Steiff, but we also visited Teddy Hermann and Kosen as well! Unfortunately these wonderfully fun trips were brought to a halt by the pandmic in 2020.
We are extremely proud of, and have been recognized for, the quality of our service. We won at Experience Guildford's Customer Service Awards in the Independent Retailer category in both its first year of 2013 and then again in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2022, which is something that we are rightly proud of. [There were no awards in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic] Despite our best efforts though, we are sure that there must be the rare occasion that we fall short of our high standards. Should you ever be disappointed please do contact us and let us know. We aim to make all of our customers as happy as possible!
Finally, we run our business in an ethical fashion. We use a green electricity supplier, are mad keen recyclers and generally try to make as many decisions as possible based on the impact on the world around us. Our chosen charity is War Child. Pictured here in this photo from Christmas Eve 2013 are Jen, Petrina and Andrew with Guildford's then Member of Parliament the Rt. Hon Anne Milton. We donated 20% of all our takings for the day to the charity.