Collector and Guinness World Records holder, Deb Hoffmann, has published her first book exploring how collecting has enriched her life and paved the way for experiences of a lifetime.
In How It All Began: How Collecting Items Became Collecting Experiences, Hoffmann examines her journey from a casual collector of Winnie the Pooh objects to earning Guinness Word Records recognition for the largest collection of Winnie the Pooh memorabilia.
“I am pretty sure I have a “collector gene” in my DNA. Since I was little, I’ve collected everything from Snoopy items to Virgin Mary statues to novelty phones,” Hoffmann shares with Toy Tales. “It was the novelty phone collecting which led me to reconnect with Pooh from my childhood. I have loved Pooh since I was a little girl. He has always been in my heart. Pooh collecting ‘stuck’ and here I am 25 years later with almost 24,000 Pooh collectibles,” she reflects.
The new book also reveals the ways in which collecting is a conduit for creating personal experiences that wouldn’t be possible had it not been for her hobby and an openness to adventure.
In a 2021 interview with Toy Tales, Hoffmann shared, “I realized it became about the people we met and the experiences we had because of collecting. Don’t get me wrong, I love finding new and fun Pooh items. However, we’ve met so many wonderful people who have become friends – people we would not have otherwise encountered. We’ve gone places and done things we wouldn’t have done if not collecting Pooh. We’ve been able to, even in a small way, affect other Pooh fans’ lives. This is so humbling.”
The book details many of the unique experiences Hoffmann has enjoyed thanks to her collection — experiences that include being a contestant on The Price Is Right game show and guesting on an episode of the Collector’s Call television series. Those experiences were made possible thanks to her pursuit of Pooh and a belief that life is about following your heart and having fun. It’s a lesson in which she hopes others will find inspiration.
Hoffmann shares an encouraging experience early in the writing process for How It All Began: “After writing the second chapter, I posted it on my website, MostPooh.com, and asked for feedback. After a week I got a message from a lady who found the chapter online — it made her cry. The lady said she was not a collector but loved visiting museums. She had visited 37 museums and was considering writing a book about her trips. She told me it was great to find another person who had a passion for something and followed it.”
In publishing the book, Hoffmann’s wish is that readers find the courage to indulge their own curiosities, “If reading How It All Began can be the encouragement someone needs to follow their own passion, then collecting gets that much sweeter. I admire people who follow a dream with commitment. My hopes for readers: follow through and have fun along the way.”
How It All Began: How Collecting Items Became Collecting Experiences is available in paperback and Kindle formats.