In 1997, Starbucks began stocking a limited amount of small, plush bears. These bearista bears are dressed up according to the holiday season, from a ski outfit for winter to a pig costume for New Year’s Day. The bearista bears quickly gained fame in Asian continents—China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. The bears, then, came to the United States, but they were not as popular as they were in Asia. According to Starbucks Stories, the bearista bears began hibernating in 2009 and returned to the stores in 2013.
In Asia, many people buy the bearista bears to collect, give as a present, and decorate their homes. The bears are considered to be very rare because they are hard to find in Starbucks stores. Furthermore, when the holidays come, they stand on shelves and lay in buckets, waiting for their perfect owner.
When I was little, my aunt from Korea brought me three Starbucks bearista bears when she came to visit California. The moment I saw the small teddy bears, I fell in love with them. Out of the three I received, I remember loving the bear dressed in a Valentine’s Day outfit. The bearista bear’s fur was a honey color. She had black eyelashes and wore a heart-decorated hat with a pom-pom, a red t-shirt with a heart-decorated skirt, and a pink jacket with red heart-shaped buttons. Most importantly, on the bottom of the bear’s left foot, a circle was embroidered on it and in red thread, it read, “Starbucks Coffee Company 2011.”
As there are not many of the Starbucks bearista bears around the world, the bears are special to me. Sitting on top of my shelf, there is a pile of bearista bears that my aunt and I have been collecting over the past few years. Last Christmas, I walked into a Starbucks store to order a drink., but, as I turned my head, there were two different bears in a straw bucket. One was a brown teddy bear with jet-black eyelashes, and she wore a red sweater with a white star embroidered in the middle and a sparkly, golden skirt. The other was an ivory-colored bear, and he wore a red beanie with a white pom-pom, a red and white patterned sweater, and a red scarf. Both were waiting for someone to take them home, so I immediately picked the bears up and brought them to add to my collection. After that day, I have not seen any more bears in the stores I’ve visited.
The rare, limited-edition bears comfort people and decorate the living environment with warmth. The next time you walk into a Starbucks store during the holidays, try looking for the small, adorable-looking bears. These bears are not the typical teddy bears you see at stores, but instead, they are the lovable ones that are dressed in full spirit to enjoy the upcoming holidays.
Holly Bae, Grade 10
La Cañada High School