‘It’s a Teddy Bear Shop!’ visitors to Tambo exclaim. Travellers are a bit bemused by a teddy bear shop in the middle of a tiny Outback Queensland town in Australia.
And seriously, what is the go with these teddy bears?
Tambo Teddies has been operating for twenty-seven years, seven years under the current ownership. The business was started by 3 women, following a Government workshop to identify new businesses and opportunities to stimulate the economy of the towns. This was in 1992, and severe drought conditions coupled with the crash of the wool industry meant things were pretty tough in the outback. The little Outback towns were going backwards rapidly.
The workshop in Tambo was held over two days and a raft of ideas were tossed around by the community. Three main initiatives progressed; the Tambo Sawmill, a new industry development by Council, creation of the Tambo Tourism and Business Assn, a community organisation that delivers community based tourism projects and promotes the region, and Tambo Teddies. All three ventures are still active today.
Tambo Teddies, a teddy bear shop, has put Tambo on the map. Tambo is 900km west/north west of Brisbane. It quickly made a name for itself; a quirky idea with a great story underpinning it. When travelling around Queensland, if you say you are from Tambo – more often than not the response was ‘How’s Tambo Teddies going?’.
The Tambo community is very proud of their very own teddy bear shop and we (Alison & Tammy) are very conscious of the community ownership of this brand. At the start of our journey we soon realised we are custodians of Teddies. We have a social commitment to our community to look after this iconic Tambo brand and product.
Tambo Teddies are all individually named and numbered , very special unique bears. Our bears live all over the world and grace the homes of royalty. Both William and Kate and Meghan and Harry were given Tambo Teddies by the Government when they visited Queensland in 2014 & 2018.
After five years, we had grown the little teddy bear shop to a point where demand outstripped the supply. Increasing demand necessitates expansion. The challenge was to take a hand-made, cottage industry business and step it up without detracting from the core, unique selling position of handcrafted, sheepskin teddies made with love in the Outback.
We achieved this by setting up a regional sewing hub in Toowoomba, which opened in February 2019. Not another teddy bear shop, the Hub is a place of creation where these beautiful bears are born. The Hub provides jobs for some of Toowoomba’s newest residents, refugees from Syria and Eritria, who are embracing being part of the Tambo Teddy story. Meanwhile, the little shop in Tambo is kept busy, sewing, selling and posting Tambo Teddies all over Australia, New Zealand and the world.
Everyone needs a Tambo Teddy and if you can’t visit Tambo’s teddy bear shop you can always order online here.