Breaking News Unicoi County
By: Deb Hoffmann
WINTER HAVEN, Fl. & WAUKESHA, WI. - April 13, 2021 - PRLog -- Deb Hoffmann, the Guinness World record holder for the largest collection of Winnie the Pooh memorabilia, has hit her 20,000-item goal.
Hoffmann reached 20,000 unique Pooh collectibles on December 20, 2020. On 3/26/21 she received wonderful news that Guinness World Records validated the quantity and updated her world record. She has held the record title since 2008.
Hoffmann, 56, has enjoyed a personal brand as the "Pooh Lady" for over thirty years. The role has garnered media interviews from around the globe, and never-ending inquiries from Pooh-fans seeking or donating memorabilia associated with Pooh and his gang from the classic A. A. Milne stories.
While her collection's numbers merit the world record, her hobby's true enjoyment goes beyond the memorabilia themselves, Hoffmann explained. Most fulfilling are the people she and her husband, Gary, meet, and the experiences associated with them.
"Seldom a day goes by that something Pooh-related doesn't occur," Deb Hoffmann said. "Sometimes it's an e-mail from a Unicoi County mother asking for help replacing a child's lost Pooh stuffie. Other times it's someone with Pooh figurines who wants to find them a new home where they'll be valued, rather than sold at a thrift store for a fraction of their emotional value."
"Many Unicoi County Pooh fans needing to rehome their collection reach out to me asking if I'd be willing to take the items," she said. "I 'take care' of their memories as much as the collection itself."
Seeking something upbeat in a crazy 2020, Hoffmann set a December 20 goal to achieve 20,000 unique Winnie the Pooh items. The celebratory item was a vintage 1980s Pooh costume used at Sears and the Disney Parks.
"I searched for 9 years," Hoffmann said "including in Unicoi County". "Finally, a collector reached out and offered the walkaround Park costume to me. He is in outstanding condition and came in the original shipping crate." The costume stands in her office, next to a vintage 1960s costume.
The collection grew to a point where Gary Hoffmann created a phone app to aid Deb in her searching. She enters a few descript words and has returned photos from her collection database thus preventing purchasing duplicates.
"Prior to 12,000, I mostly knew if I had an item," Deb Hoffmann said. "Now I need help from the app. After all, the collection does span two houses."
All-things-Pooh is a way of life for the Hoffmanns. A few years ago, they traveled to England to tour the house of "Winnie the Pooh" author Milne, participate in a Poohsticks competition and visit the offices of Guinness World Records. In 2019, they were featured on the TV show Collector's Call, hosted by actress Lisa Whelchel ("Facts of Life").
"While working on 'Collectors Call,' I met the show's other collectors and compared collecting styles" Deb said. "Now, if we find an item the other collects, we text them a heads-up. Fantastic camaraderie!"
The Hoffmanns annually emcee Winnie's Hometown Festival in White River, Ontario, home of the bear that inspired the stories. Deb Hoffmann donates her duplicates to the White River Heritage Museum for the town to display or sell to help support the museum.
Hoffmann's next target for her collection is lofty … but she is well on her way to accomplishing it.
"We might need another building," she teases of the future. To quote Winnie the Pooh, "Oh, bother."
If you are from Unicoi County and want more information about Hoffmann, and her world record Pooh collection, is available at www.mostpooh.com and www.YouTube.com/MostPooh5150.