Web note causes Beanie biz buzz

September 01, 1999|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

The blacked-out Web site of Ty Inc., maker of Beanie Babies, gave way to a surprising announcement yesterday. The company apparently is retiring every single one of its Beanie Babies.

The Ty site went black early yesterday. It returned hours later listing new toys to be released next month; at the end of the announcement it said without explanation: "VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE: On December 31, 1999 ... All Beanies will be retired ... including the above!"

Ty was unavailable to confirm the Internet posting. Nevertheless, it is bound to create a stir among dealers and collectors.

Earlier yesterday, Mary Beth Sobolewski, editor-in-chief of Mary Beth's Bean Bag World Monthly, noted that the collectors' world has been abuzz with a number of rumors -- from speculation that company founder Ty Warner would run for president to a redesign of Beanie Baby tags.

Ty periodically retires different Beanie Babies, taking them out of circulation and thus boosting their value among collectors. Each stuffed animal goes for at least $5.95 retail, but can sell among collectors in the so-called secondary market for as much as $1,000, depending on its rarity.

The message did not say Ty would quit production of the toys. Rather, it appeared that the company might be trying to spur more interest in older Beanie Babies and then, presumably, start with a fresh lineup on Jan. 1.

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