Getting the bear essentials is easy in Newport, as MICHAEL JONES found out

IF YOU go into Market Arcade today, you’re sure of a big surprise – because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Perched on shelves reaching all the way to the ceiling in John Gibbon’s Ted E Bear shop are rows and rows of rare and collectible teddy bears.

Mr Gibbon, from Newport, opened his shop 12 months ago and describes his profession “as a fair old business”.

South Wales Argus:

John Gibbon poses in front of some of his teddy bears


In 2007, he had to close down his shop on Griffin Street because of rising rent.

“I have been in Newport since 1985," he said. "Our first shop was on Charles street and then we moved into Griffin Street.

“But had to close down completely in 2007.

“We used to have three floors where you could make your own bear and we also had a museum.”

Since he closed his shop, the value of his teddy bears has risen, he says.

“All the stock we have now is still from 2007.

“It’s all brand new, packaging complete and it is more collectible now than it was before.

“Some of the values have more than doubled in price.”

South Wales Argus:

John Gibbon admires his limited edition Concord bear

Despite this, Mr Gibbon refuses to increase the selling price in turn.

“I am keeping them at the 2007 prices, so people who buy it now will be buying collectors’ items that are more valuable,” he said.

“A lot of the bears are handmade rather than made by a machine.

“What you are getting a really quality bear, and many come from across the world.”

Most of the bears on display are limited editions, including the ‘Concord Bear’, ‘Julius Caesar Bear’, ‘Christopher Columbus Bear’ and the ‘Napoleon Bear’.

Mr Gibbon says he is flexible with the way customers pay, and allows a deposit scheme where you can pay a little bit each month.

South Wales Argus:

A selection of some of the shop's valuable and limited edition bears

“We have always done that, and it is part and parcel of collecting," he said. “People like to collect, but they can’t always afford the items there and then.

“Knowing they can have this system, it is a cheap way to do it.

“If I can help someone who wants to become a collector, then I will.”

His passion for collecting teddy bears was inspired by his ex-wife.

South Wales Argus:

The limited edition Concord bear

And he jokes that he decided to open a teddy bear shop after getting “fed up” of always buying them and that it would be a “cheaper way” to satisfy his ex-wife’s passion.

“You can’t be sentimental with the bears though, you can’t have favourites,” he said.