Hugglets Online Directory - BackgroundReproduced from the UK Teddy Bear Guide 2010 (published October 2009)
How it came about
'Let's produce a worldwide Teddy Bear Guide' Glenn said in 1997, so we set about enthusiastically compiling the information. Despite our initial valiant efforts we never quite launched it, until now!
On 19th Nov 2009 we started offering the service with the first 1000 entries. Our expectation is that it will rapidly grow to over 3000 entries by the end of 2010.
Part of the reason it didn't happen in 1997 was the size of the task the more we investigated the bigger the job became and partly it was the lack of a suitable technology to make it work. A printed book would have been about three inches thick and postage too expensive to send it around the world. Software seemed a possibility but computers were not yet sufficiently commonplace to make it a viable product.
Over the years we left the project on the back burner but continued to collect data awaiting the right moment and the right method to make it available.
Early in 2009 we started thinking about how to celebrate Hugglets’ 25th year in 2010 (you can read about our 10,000 bear makers project here). It seemed to us that we couldn’t provide information on that many bear makers without also providing ways to locate their bears. As a result we decided to introduce two further services at our website - the Hugglets Marketplace and the Hugglets Online Directory.
When we first published our annual UK Teddy Bear Guide in 1987 it proved to be a strong stimulus to developing and promoting the teddy bear collecting hobby in the UK because it helped collectors and businesses to locate each other and communicate more easily. Our hope for the Hugglets Online Directory is that it will do the same on a global scale.
What it includes
The Hugglets Online Directory aims to provide contact details for every actively trading teddy bear business in the world.
Although focussed on teddy bears, the directory is also for businesses selling similar products including soft toy animals and soft-sculpture creations, bear-making materials, bear repairers, fair organisers and all teddy bear-related products.
At present we have over 12,000 teddy bear businesses on record. Of course the large majority are no longer trading so we need to undertake a huge spring cleaning exercise to ensure our new service is accurate and up-to-date. We estimate there are probably between 3000 to 4000 actively trading teddy bear businesses in the world today.
We aim to verify all entries to make sure they are still trading before entering them in the directory which will contain at least one point of contact for each business, and usually several, including address, telephone, fax and website as well as the main contact name.
While errors may occasionally occur Hugglets will take pride in providing the most accurate and up-to-date information we possibly can.
You can help too by reporting anything you see that has become out of date in the directory. Our system is underpinned by a facility for the businesses themselves to log-in and amend their own records but we will also be pro-active in dealing with corrections where these are brought to our attention.
Building the directory will be an ongoing task but because it’s online the directory can be updated every day so that new entries and revised details will be available instantly. A form is also provided for you to recommend new entries - we will then make contact with the business to verify their details.
How businesses can be included
Entries in the online directory are free of charge to every teddy bear related business. There are a number of categories so if a business has more than one field of activity they can have a free entry in each relevant section.
To enter and manage your own entries simply indicate that you are a teddy bear business when you register as a user on the Hugglets site. If you have already registered and missed this step you can adjust your settings in the My Account section. You will then see a 'My Directory' page in the My Account section where you can enter one or more entries in the Hugglets Online Directory.
How to use it
All site visitors can use the basic directory search to see which entries we have, but viewing the detailed results will be limited to only our site subscribers.
Subscribers will soon also benefit from an advanced search facility.
In most cases it is possible for subscribers to contact the businesses by email direct from our page. Any website addresses offered by the business are available as clickable links.
As well as being a valuable resource to collectors we envisage that the Hugglets Online Directory will become an important business-to-business tool enabling you to locate the businesses that interest you based on their product description, country and business type - even finding an elusive business with only a fragment of their contact details such as a street name or phone number.
The site subscription
To have full viewing rights to the Hugglets Online Directory you will need a Hugglets Gold membership subscription (which is different from the normal free Hugglets site registration).
The subscription costs £3.95 per month and the minimum period is only one month. When you subscribe a secure payment will be automated on a recurring monthly basis from either your credit/debit card or your Paypal account. You can cancel at any time.
We are using Paypal merchant services on our website which means that you can pay for services with with a Via or MasterCard and you don't need a Paypal account - it's simply that the service we use to process your card payment is also run by Payal. If you do have a Paypal account you are welcome to pay that way instead of using a card.
The site subscription also gives you Earlybird access to reply to any of the adverts in the Hugglets Marketplace before the contact details are made available to non-subscribers.
We look forward to seeing the Online Directory continue to grow and hope you'll find it a useful, enjoyable and easy to use resource for your hobby or business.