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Bear Mill allows kids to make own stuffed animals

When Robert and Nancy Tilton saw how much their daughter Katie enjoyed building her own stuffed animal, they thought there was a market for such a business in the area.

Their business, The Bear Mill, is in the Kyova Mall in Cannonsburg, Ky., and attracts fans of stuffed animals from throughout the region.

“It looks like something at Disney,” Nancy Tilton said. “We have 40 different types of animals you pick from and we have dolls also.”

Children and adults alike get to be creative when it comes to choosing an animal. Customers pick a “skin” before a machine stuffs it. After the animal is formed, it can then be dressed with an expansive wardrobe selection.

“We also have sound devices and you can put a personal message on it,” Tilton said. “Then there’s a huge assortment of clothes, shoes, undergarments, blankets and those kind of things.”

Each new owner of a stuffed animal or doll is provided with a birth certificate and a photograph is taken.

Tilton said the idea came to the Ashland, Ky., couple from the popular store Build A Bear, which has regional locations in Charleston, W.Va., and Columbus.

She said about half of her customers are familiar with the concept.

“A lot of people just thought it was a store with stuffed animals. It’s about 50-50, people who’ve never been to a Build A Bear and a lot of other people know how it works,” said Tilton, who also owns Katie’s Corner on Greenup Avenue in Ashland with her husband. “It surprised me how many people had never been in one.”

The Bear Mill arranges birthday parties at the store and also offers gift cards. For more information call (606) 929-5445.