Boyds' founder, chairman emeritus, and "Head Bean"-- the son of a German Immigrant--was born in New York City in 1949. He attended Alfred University in upstate New York to earn his B.S. (how appropriate) and an M.S. in Biology. Being a self-described "true Child of the Sixties," G.M. then joined the U.S.
Peace Corps and "split" for the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific, where he did his part for World
Then, for reasons still unknown (Masochism?), he returned to New York to embark upon a seven-year career at that
Mecca of Merchandising...Bloomingdale's. At "Bloomies," G.M. worked in purchasing, designing, and merchandising, which exposed him to some of the fashion industry's top Clothing Designers...and also allowed him to take his next Bold Step. Instead of continuing his successful Bloomies career, in 1979, G.M. moved to rural Boyds, Maryland, near Washington,
D.C., to open an antiques shop...the beginning of The Boyds Collection Ltd.®
The Boyds Collection Ltd.®began as an antiques shop in the home of G.M. Lowenthal and his partner (now wife), Justina Unger. Their love of antiques outweighed their ability to purchase many of the rare items, so the team shifted its focus. Instead of the "true antiques," G.M. and Tina began to seek out and sell "Antique Reproductions," with the look and feel of true antiques at more affordable prices. This retail venture proved to be so successful
that by 1982 they began to wholesale some of these top-selling antique reproductions to other stores.
Some of their most successful wholesale items were Antique Reproduction Duck Decoys that ranged from a 9" stained teal to a giant 3' Whistling Swan. The wholesale part of The Boyds Collection began to flourish as G.M. designed, painted, antiqued, boxed, and sold the decoys and Tina handled the customer service, billing, shipping, and accounting aspects of their business. G.M. added a new line when he found a group of 100% Merino Wool Bears from China. In 1984 G.M. designed a 12" fully jointed wool bear and named it after his latest "joint venture" with Tina...their newborn son, Matthew. Also in 1984, G.M. - tired of painting 20,000 duck decoys until 3 a.m.- turned to resin sculpting to produce "The Gnomes Homes," extremely
detailed miniature houses based on American architecture and his own fertile imagination.
The company expanded from its home into an 1880s-era Sunday School building down the street. The Lowenthals added a secretary and a warehouse man and continued to wholesale duck decoys, wool teddy bears, Gnomes Homes, and some antique-style brassware. In 1987, G.M.
and Tina relocated the firm to the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, area, and the company continued to grow.
In 1993, Boyds released its first series of resin figurines, The Bearstone Collection®, and followed that up with Folkstones®, DollstonesTM, and host of other wacky resin characters,
villages, dolls, pottery, treasure boxes, and nifty home decor.
It was always Gary’s dream to open a flagship store—a magical place where Boyds bears, hares, and friends could live and play! His dream came true in early 2002, when the Folks at Boyds broke ground and began construction of Boyds Bear Country™.
The Boyds Collection Ltd.® has continued to grow by leaps and bounds over the years, but, as G.M. says, "We're a lot bigger than when we were a 'mom and pop' shop, but, for better or worse, we still run it like a 'mom and pop' shop, only on steroids. We're still a little disorganized and a little off-center, and slightly eccentric...just like our bears!"
- From Boyds Bear Country website