The lobby of Point B Realty doesn’t look like a place of serious business these days. Behind the reception desk sits Edgar, a six-foot-tall teddy bear. On the other side of the lobby, owner and principal broker of the firm, Wendy Harman, fluffs the fur of two-year-old Chappy, a teddy bear named by “fans” last year through Facebook and blog votes and posts.
“Does anyone know of someone who sews teddy bears? Excuse me, I mean, does anyone know of a teddy bear surgeon?” asks Guinevere Cramer, the social media and marketing manager at Point B Realty.
To be fair, teddy bear talk and stuffed animal sightings inside Point B Realty only happen in the weeks leading up to the start of the Teddy Bear Suite, an annual event Point B Realty sponsors at the Harbor View Hotel. The Teddy Bear Suite is a fundraiser for the afterschool program at the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ & Girls’ Club.
“The Teddy Bear Suite is part of the fabric of Christmas in Edgartown,” said Ms. Cramer. Planning for the suite starts each year with the arrival of a new life-size bear.
“We get one big bear a year,” said Win Baker, director of marketing services. “The first year was Edgar, last year was Chappy, and we have a new bear this year.”
“And people really know the bears,” Ms. Harman added. “I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, That’s Chappy! And they say hello to Chappy.”
The idea for the Teddy Bear Suite came from Ms. Harman and Mr. Baker, who recall fond memories of a Seattle Teddy Bear Suite.
“It was at the Four Seasons, which is now the Fairmont Olympic, and it was wonderful,” said Mr. Baker. When the couple moved to Martha’s Vineyard, the thought of renting out a hotel suite to hundreds of teddy bears for families to visit was always in the back of their minds. Three years ago it became a reality. They created what they all refer to as “a magical place that changes people.”
Two large rooms and a bathroom make up Suite 201 at the Harbor View Hotel. The Teddy Bear Suite debuts on Dec. 13 and when it is in full swing it will feature teddy bear vignettes, a reading corner with books about bears, Christmas trees with presents and bears under them, a teddy bear spa where bears unwind and soak up suds in the tub, a huge bed filled entirely with bears dressed for the holiday, and to deepen the mood, Christmas carols and a roaring fire on the big screen TV.
“People of all ages, from six months to 106, love the suite,” said Ms. Cramer.
“And they love the bed with all the bears,” added Mr. Baker. “One of the first guests was a woman in her late 60s who laid down on the bed and told her family to come pick her up later.”
Another memorable moment occurred last year when there were 300 bears and three sets of twins inside the suite. “It was a big ‘we are the world’ moment,” said Mr. Baker.
What makes the Point B Realty Teddy Bear Suite different than the one in Seattle is that people can touch the bears and cuddle them. Not that it always ends well, this freedom to touch.
“Edgar got abused by a teenager last year,” said Mr. Baker, “But let’s not talk about that.”
Bear security has been beefed up since then. Two Point B Realty employees stay in the suite while it’s open, doing foot patrol and monitoring the bears. “It’s also a lot of constantly fluffing and adjusting bows,” said Ms. Harman.
So where are the bears when they aren’t camping out in a water-view suite at the Harbor View? “In the bear cave!” everyone shouted in unison. The bear cave resides in an undisclosed location. After all, they deserve a good rest after a hard working holiday season. In 2011 the Teddy Bear Suite raised $3,000. Funds more than doubled in 2012, when the event raised $7,615.
“This year we want to raise $10,000,” Ms. Cramer said. “I think we can do it. People are really generous.” Ms. Harman also matches 50 cents to every dollar donated.
There is no admission to enter and hang out with the teddy bears, but there are other ways to contribute.
“There are three ways to donate. You can pay a donation at the door of the suite, you can participate in the raffle in the lobby or you can pay online,” said Ms. Harman, who added that the online fund is a popular option for people off-Island wanting to help the Boys’ & Girls’ Club.
The Teddy Bear Suite opens Friday, Dec. 13, at the Harbor View Hotel beginning at 4 p.m. and running to 8 p.m. Saturday hours are noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.