Our story begins in 1904. Mary Meyer was born Mary Lorang in New York City. When she was a little girl, she learned how to sew from her mother by mending the family’s hats, blouses and pantaloons.
Everyone noticed how much Mary loved to sew!
Mary’s father was a manager in one of New York City’s finest hotels during the 1920’s. She learned about style and fashion from him. The glamorous people in the beautiful clothes of the Roaring 20’s were the inspiration for her own creations.
As a teenager, Mary went to a public school that specialized in sewing. There she learned how to make patterns and work with fabrics that would later become colorful pincushion animals.
Everyone loved these toys, so she continued to design and sew more as gifts for friends and family.
When she was 24, she attended a political rally where she met a talented salesman named Hans Meyer. They fell in love, and within a year were married.
Yes, there really was a Mary Meyer!
Hans and Mary began to think about producing and selling Mary’s best toys. The Great Depression of the 1930’s had arrived in New York City and times were tough. Nobody thought that this was a good time to start a business. In fact, everyone advised against it. However, they were each other’s biggest fans…the world’s best salesman and the world’s greatest seamstress.
Let’s name our business Mary Meyer
Hans went on the road selling while Mary and her small staff remained in the shop sewing and stuffing. They would eagerly await Hans’ return to hear which of their products had sold the best and how many of each. By now, the teddy bear had become the toy of choice for most children.
Mary began to design a line of teddy bears
By the early 40’s, city life had worn thin on Hans who grew up in the country. The hills of Vermont reminded him of his hometown in Germany. Like a good salesman, he sold Mary on the idea of a cow and horse farm, a toy shop, and raising their two children in the Green Mountains.
Welcome to the West River Valley!
Here in Vermont, they raised cows, tended horses and built their business. The business grew and needed more room. This time Mary sold Hans on the idea of the toys taking over the barn. The animals would have to find a new home.
The barn in Townshend village slowly became a toy factory. In fact, the cutting room, finishing room, and shipping room additions eventually obscured the original barn.
Over the years, many West River Valley residents worked at the Mary Meyer toy factory.
Their personalities influenced many things in the shop, from the layout of the production line, to the expressions applied to some of the toys’ faces.
Just imagine it’s 1933.
– A young woman follows her passion creating and sewing small fabric toys.
– A German bachelor arrives at Ellis Island with barely a penny to his name.
– In New York, the city that never sleeps, the roaring 20’s are a distant memory.
– And a stalled economy that will become known as The Great Depression is in full gear.
Combine the above ingredients into a bowl and stir. Who would have thought this had the makings of a toy company that would still be thriving over eighty years later?
With the mixing complete, Mary, her husband Hans, and the little toy company they created rose to the top of that mixing bowl. After a decade in business, they left the Depression and New York behind and moved north to Vermont. This has been the home of Mary Meyer stuffed toys ever since.
It’s good to make things. For the next forty years, Mary, Hans, and their son Walter lead a small band of toy makers here in Vermont. At the same time, Walter’s sister Lorraine, moved to Germany where she started a Mary Meyer toy company in Bavaria. Toys just seemed to be in the family genes. And good thing because Walter and his wife Elaine had six children of their own.
Today the world is a far different place. Mary Meyer was one of the last American stuffed toy companies to move production overseas. A decision that saved us and changed us, overseas production has allowed us to use a great variety of quality fabrics, implement excellent safety standards, and to sell toys at a price everyone can afford.
All our toy design continues here in Vermont where talented artists “draw with their eyes.” Whether we are sketching, cutting, stitching, or using the mouse, we always have an eye on what’s new, how children are playing and what the world looks like through their eyes. Our designers work inside the original toy shop here in Vermont and we like to think that some of the karma of our rich past makes it into every toy we design.
- Just imagine its 1933.
- A young woman follows her passion creating and sewing small fabric toys.
- A German bachelor arrives at Ellis Island with barely a penny to his name.
- In New York, the city that never sleeps, the roaring 20’s are a distant memory.
Watch & Read The Story