Our story begins in 1904. Mary Meyer was born Mary Lorang in New York City. When she was a little girl, she learned how to sew from her mother by mending the family’s hats, blouses and pantaloons.
Mary’s father was a manager in one of New York City’s finest hotels during the 1920’s. She learned about style and fashion from him. The glamorous people in the beautiful clothes of the Roaring 20’s were the inspiration for her own creations.
As a teenager, Mary went to a public school that specialized in sewing. There she learned how to make patterns and work with fabrics that would later become colorful pincushion animals.
Everyone loved these toys, so she continued to design and sew more as gifts for friends and family.
When she was 24, she attended a political rally where she met a talented salesman named Hans Meyer. They fell in love, and within a year were married.
Hans and Mary began to think about producing and selling Mary’s best toys. The Great Depression of the 1930’s had arrived in New York City and times were tough. Nobody thought that this was a good time to start a business. In fact, everyone advised against it. However, they were each other’s biggest fans…the world’s best salesman and the world’s greatest seamstress.
By the early 40’s, city life had worn thin on Hans who grew up in the country. The hills of Vermont reminded him of his hometown in Germany. Like a good salesman, he sold Mary on the idea of a cow and horse farm, a toy shop, and raising their two children in the Green Mountains.
Here in Vermont, they raised cows, tended horses and built their business. The business grew and needed more room. This time Mary sold Hans on the idea of the toys taking over the barn. The animals would have to find a new home.
The barn in Townshend village slowly became a toy factory. In fact, the cutting room, finishing room, and shipping room additions eventually obscured the original barn.
Over the years, many West River Valley residents worked at the Mary Meyer toy factory.
Their personalities influenced many things in the shop, from the layout of the production line, to the expressions applied to some of the toys’ faces.