Sunday, February 6, 2011

The "Store-y" Behind One Sleepy Steiff Poodle

There's nothing much more exciting for a Steiff collector than to receive a much anticipated treasure in the mail.  Opening the box, separating out the packaging, and slowly and carefully removing the new prize from the box are all part of the "getting to know you" process.  But what happens when the collectible has a wonderful surprise story accompanying it?  That's just what happened to Steiffgal when she unboxed a new Steiff friend recently, a little white poodle named Floppy Snobby.  Here's the "store"-y behind her - quite literally!

Steiffgal doesn't want to sound stuck up about this, but her new Floppy Snobby Pudel or Floppy Snobby Poodle is one top dog!  She is one of Steiff's beloved "sleeping style" animals from the 1950's onward.  This little lady is 28 cm, in a most relaxed lying down position, and made from lovely, thick mohair.  Her "fur" is shorter on her torso and muzzle and a bit longer on her arms and lets, ears, and forehead, much like a traditional poodle cut.  Snobby has a black hand embroidered nose, a pink airbrushed smile, and mile-long black felt eyelashes.  She has her original silk ribbon - truly reflecting her "blue ribbon" status!  Snobby was made from 1959 through 1963 in 17 and 28 cm.

So what's the secret story behind "sleeping beauty?" Well, check out the additional tag attached near her yellow ear tag. Stapled to her ear is a very old fashioned looking price tag from a store called "The Rike Kumler Company" and is marked $7.50 with a line drawn through it, then $3.75. (Just in case you were wondering, $7.50 in 1960 had the same buying power as $55.09 in 2010.) So Steiff has always been a premium brand!

And what about her retail origins?  At one time, Rike Kumler, which was called Rike's by many shoppers, was a beloved and popular department store in Dayton, Ohio.  They had a significant toy department on the eighth floor of the building that featured high end products like this Steiff sleeping poodle!  The store had its origins around 1853, and grew rapidly over the years.  It moved to bigger and bigger quarters, finally locating at Second and Main in 1912. In 1915 an addition for menswear was completed, and in 1938 an eighth floor and air conditioning were added to the building.  Rike's opened up branches throughout the area and celebrated its official 125th anniversary in 1978. In 1982 the company merged with Shillito’s Department Store and became Shillito-Rikes. In 1986 that corporation became Lazarus, and then Macy's in 2005.  The Rike-Kumler Company Building in downtown Dayton was demolished in 1999 and is now the site of the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center.   The company's archives and papers are stored at the Wright State University Libraries in Dayton.

Steiffgal hopes you enjoyed this sweet "bedtime" story and that it has inspired you to look for the secret stories that might be hidden within your Steiff treasures as well.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

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