A soft-hearted toyshop owner was feline a little foolish today after he realised he was ”too attached” to part with a giant cuddly lion – despite trying to sell it for 40 YEARS.
The 3ft tall toy lion had languished on the stairs of the family-run store ”unloved” and ”unsold” ever since it was went on display for £350 (19 shillings 11d) in 1970.
He became an iconic figure to generations of children who shopped in GW Hurley & Sons in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, but never attracted a buyer – until two weeks ago.
It was only then shop owner Colin Morris realised he was too attached to part with the lion – and turned down the offer.
Colin, 65, said: ”He is just too precious to give away and has too much sentimental value.
”It’s become one of the main fixtures of the business now – everybody comments on it but nobody has ever walked away with it.
”Finally someone came in the shop a few weeks ago and offered to buy it for their local charity.
”But they wanted a bit of a discount and when I talked to one of the ladies in the shop about it – she burst into tears.
”She had just become so attached to the lion over the years – we all have. So I told them I could not sell it.
”I have now taken it off sale – I just wouldn’t let it go now.”
Father-of-four Colin bought the lion at a London toy fare for £270 in 1970.
He thought the 3ft x 4ft golden lion would fit perfectly on the stairs of his family store, which started trading in 1919.
The cuddly creature, made by manufacturer Pegasus, went on sale for 19 shillings 11d and was revalued to £350.99p when prices went metric in 1971.
It became known as ‘Hurley’s Lion’ among the townsfolk of Burnham and became a familiar figure to thousands of children.
In a bid to shift the toy, Mr Morris did not raise the price with inflation – if he had, it would now be worth over £1,000.
But two weeks ago an anonymous tourist – who is believed to be a member of a Lions Club – offered to buy it to use as a charity mascot.
Mr Morris said: ”The lion is as popular with the staff as it is the customers. No-one wants to see it go now.
”Everyone comes back to the shop as adults and talk about seeing the lion as a child.
”In fact I had a bloke bring his grandchildren in here the other day, specially to see our lion.
”It’s a lovely tradition to have in a shop like ours.”