SPOKANE — Stuffed plushies called Squishmallows have exploded in popularity in recent years, sparking competition among those who love to collect them and resellers.
“It just kind of got out of control, in the best way possible,” Spokane collector Karin Whitehead said.
Stores like Winnie’s Hallmark on 29th Avenue in Spokane also have noticed this surge in popularity as workers there have had to make a restock list of customers to call when they order more in store.
“On restock day, we have a list of people that we call, and they basically come in and buy all of them,” said Bailey Johnson, a manager at Winnie’s Hallmark.
“We have a specific Squishmallow hold list,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the serious buyers are mostly young adults, teens and people in their mid-30s who are collectors of the huge array of plushies.
“It’s a trend,” Johnson said. “People like to collect things. They always have, and this is like the new collectors’ item.”
Whitehead found herself becoming a collector after finding a lot of enjoyment out of it.
“I didn’t really think of it as a collection,” Whitehead said. “Before I just liked them, and then it just started piling up. More and more of them.”
She said her collection has probably grown to more than 100 Squishmallows, each carrying sentimental value.
“I feel like it’s almost my personality in a way,” Whitehead said. “My collection is a way of expressing who I am. They’re all little bits of me and all are memories of where I got them and who I got them with.
“I feel like it’s also a form of therapy for me, just me being able to have the things that I couldn’t have as a child. I would have loved to have a stuffed animal collection as big as mine.”
Whitehead said she feels like the growing popularity is due to how readily available they are. Buyers can just go into stores like Walgreens and buy another collectible friend.
“They’re extremely popular, depending on the styles we have,” Johnson said.
Designs of sea life, mushrooms and succulents are some of the most popular designs, Johnson said.
Whitehead has noticed some styles of the plushies can be rarer than others, leaving people to have a high enough demand for them for resellers to triple the price of them online.
“It’s insane people sell them for so much,” Whitehead said. “Some people are selling them for hundreds of dollars. It’s hard, especially because they are so popular. Everyone wants them, but it’s hard to get what you want when it’s first-come, first-serve. You know if you find it you can get it, and then there’s none left for everyone else.”
Some plushies are more popular than others, such as the axolotls. The plush collectible designed to mimic the salamander species is Whitehead’s favorite.
Whitehead said she feels the competition to find the ones she wants to collect “adds fuel to the fire” but makes it fulfilling to find the rare ones she’s been seeking.
“It’s just like any collection where you have one of them, and you want to get as many as possible just because you love them so much,” Whitehead said. “It’s just so human of us to just have these little collections; it’s a little example of humans repeating themselves over time.”Jase Picanso is a reporter with the Spokesman Review.