What became a Guinness World Record collection of 3,399 squirrel-related items began in 1981 with a small Sandicast squirrel figurine.
“I had some gift money I saved for a special purchase, and I ended up buying a squirrel figurine,” said Holly Goudie, Troy resident and Warren librarian. “Then my mom gave me a t-shirt and a necklace, and it kind of became a collection from there.”
In October 2021, Guinness World Records recognized Goudie’s vast collection as the largest of its kind. The previous record was 1,100, and this collection was mostly statues. Goudie has books, socks, cards, jewellery, umbrellas, ornaments, figurines, towels, sheets, mugs and just about anything else you can think of in her prized collection.
“At this point, I’m really trying to add things that are more user-friendly and functional,” Goudie said. “For example, I just got a squirrel umbrella, and probably one of the most unique things is a brass Jonathan Adler shoehorn. It has a long handle and looks like a work of art, but I use it every day.”
As a librarian, it’s no surprise that Goudie has more than 200 squirrel books in her collection. She spent 37 years as the school librarian in Romeo and now works part-time in the library at the Warren Civic Center, so books are very important to her.
She has squirrel decorations for every holiday, a Polish ceramic squirrel, and has collected pieces from around the world. During a trip to Rome, one of the other people on the trip, aware of her affection for squirrels, spotted an item in a small shop that she knew Goudie wanted.
“It took me three trips to the store to get it because they were closed the first two times I tried to buy it,” Goudie said. “I was finally able to get it right before we left.”
In the early days of building the squirrel stash, Goudie had a hard time finding items. But in recent years, with online shopping and places like Etsy that specialize in handmade items, it’s been easier to track down squirrel-related pieces.
“The squirrel was never really a trend animal,” Goudie said. “In the beginning it was just an item here and an item there, but over the years that has changed. There are online stores that only sell squirrel stuff.”
Goudie is known for scouring eBay for unique squirrel paraphernalia.
“Once I bid on something on eBay and lost, but I kept looking for another one and it took seven years, but I found another one and was able to get it,” Goudie said.
Many items were given to Goudie, and two of them she considers particularly special. For their 25th wedding anniversary, a friend gave Goudie and her husband a vintage vase that looked like two gray squirrels filled with flowers in the colors of their wedding. A bouquet of squirrels made from props from a school play is also one of her favorite items, although it couldn’t be counted for Guinness.
Guidelines dictate that eligible items had to have been available for purchase and the handcrafted props did not meet these criteria.
It was a daunting task to assemble all 3,399 pieces of her collection to be counted and photographed for Guinness World Records. The count must be done by two independent people, one of whom must be a zoologist, and everything must be in one place. It took Goudie 10 weeks to set up the shelves with all of her items on display and she says she’s still putting items away.
“The trick is to display things in a way that can be counted quickly and in an organized manner,” Goudie said.
Although Goudie owns more than 3,000 squirrel-related items, she continues to collect. She recently visited the fall decor sale at Joann Fabrics and found a squirrel doormat and came home from this summer’s Ann Arbor Art Fair with six different squirrel masterpieces.
“My husband gave me a bad time about it, but my boyfriend told him there were 10 other things I didn’t buy,” Goudie said. “I try to limit my purchases to no more than one or two a month, but for now the fall decorations are out, which means there are more squirrel options.”