IF you go down to woods today your in for a big surprise, If you go down to Taunton, you find a world of bears...

The tune would be from The Teddy Bears Picnic, the words my own.

But if you go along to 20, Lower Middle Street, Taunton then in the words of a World of Bears, you will find ‘three floors of cuddles’ and more than 18,000 bears and soft toys.

It is not so much as World of Bears is a Noah’s Ark of soft toys and animals.

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Animals including tigers, giraffes, sharks, dinosaurs, sloths, penguins, pandas, polar bears, bats, pheasants, spiders, lions, Koala Bears, rabbits, mice, pigeons, vultures, flamingos, unicorns, monkeys, cheetahs, sharks, meerkats, teddy bears and Paddington Bears to name but a few of all there is on display.

The famous makes on sale including Charlie Bears, Suki, Hansa, Gotta Geet Gund, PetJes, Steiff and another over twenty five leading makers.

The individual who is responsible for the World of Bears is Elaine Moodie. She is a collector turned shopkeeper, although she still collects teddy bears.

Elaine opened her first shop called the Gorge Bear Company in 1999 in Cheddar and expected it to seasonal and in the winter months she would have a ‘proper job’.

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But that never happened and though hard work and dedication the Gorge Bear Company took off and by 2004 she had opened the World of Bears in Taunton.

Elaine said what has happened is the shops have become a ‘proper destination shop’ and collectors come from all around the UK to visit the shops and from around the world to shop with her online.

Recently a couple made the journey from Norfolk to come and visit the shop in Taunton and one businessman from the USA who had ordered items of line came arrived to buy his wife a present before going home.

Elaine said: “You have got to have a passion about what you sell.

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"I have learnt so much being a collector and have got a great knowledge of the product.

"Collecting can be an addiction but there is a passion for it.

"Every year there are two launches of Charlie Bears and at each launch they can be 60 bears which people want to collect.

Charlie Bears is a UK company based in Devon and many of the bears they make have a name so many people buy the bear to give someone they know with the same name.

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“I had an artist who made bears for us called Alison Thorne and made handmade bears for us.

“Each bear is a one of one and no two bears are alike in any way.

"She used to make them for me and then had to give up for personal reasons.

“She stooped for 20 years and then suddenly this year she phoned me up and asked if I wanted any more bears as she was making them.

"I of course said yes as her bears flew off the shelf and there are not many people who make bears.”

To keep ahead of the crowd, Elaine attends a number of trade fairs and has travelled to Toronto in Canada and New York in the USA to see what is on offer on the other side of the Atlantic.

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She explained a number of company’s like Steiff give us exclusivity on items which was great for her and her customers.

Steiff is the most famous teddy bear maker in the world and do not just make teddy bears.

They produce limited edition bears and have made limited edition Paddington Bears. A very large one would set you back £1,800.

The shop has been described by people who visit it as being like a Tardis-small on the outside, big on the inside.

You can buy a bear or soft toy costing less than £10 up to a 6ft bear which weighs eight stone and would set you back £2,700.

Even if you did not collect bears or have any soft toys you would leave with one from this shop.

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There is something for everyone in the shop and you are never too old to have teddy bear.

Recalling her childhood, Elaine said: “I had a rabbit. It was three foot tall, it did not move as it was not jointed and I called it bunny.

“From that moment on I had to have a soft toy when we went on holiday and one of the things I was given was a teddy bear called bear.

"I remember when my mother went into hospital to give birth to my brother I had to be looked after my a friend for about a week.

"I had to take with me was my teddy bear.

“I felt safe with my teddy bear.”

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Now she has taken her love of teddy bears and turned it into a business.

Elaine said: “I have pure satisfaction every day of doing something I love.

“If anyone comes into the shop and buys a bear or a soft toy and leaves happy then I have done my job.

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"I want all my customers to have a great shopping experience.”

Find out more about World of Bears online at worldofbears.com