Why, it's the bear from Peru with a taste for marmalade sandwiches and a penchant for shiny wellington boots, Paddington, of course. In a bumper year for the bear, author Michael Bond, who started writing about him in 1958 brought out a couple of new adventures, and a Britannia themed DVD box set of the well-loved FilmFair series from the 80s hit the shops as well. He was also the star of a new range of items created in conjunction with famed Japanese artist Shinzi Katoh which launched exclusively at Harrod's for Christmas 2012.
What's Pier32's connection to all this? Well, we've been supplying t-shirts to the stall at the concourse at Paddington station for a couple of years now, and we've also sorted out the staff with smart fleeces to keep them snug while they sell. That stall has now expanded into a shop with a commanding view over the station. I popped along to meet Jackie, who's been with the Paddington family since the early eighties and runs the shop, to find out a bit more about what's in store for the bear in the next couple of years.
|Jackie, smart in her Pier32 fleece.|
The change in location has improved business no end. Jackie estimates footfall has gone up by a half since the shop opened for business in November, just in time for Christmas. I asked what sort of people came in through the doors. "Just about everyone," she said. "Young mums and grannies who grew up with Paddington like to pass the stories they loved as children on to their kids. There's a big international market as well. The Americans and Japanese love Paddington." She thinks there's room to include a Paddington in some of the London tourist couch tours. After all, there's both the bear and the beautiful Isambard Kingdom Brunel ironwork to visit!
I definitely agree with that. For me, Paddington has all the best bits of the British character. He's unfailingly polite, but he speaks his mind and doesn't suffer fools gladly. He may look cuddly and a bit vulnerable--but watch out if he turns his hard stare on you!
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