6/19/2013

My First Doll Club Meeting; Dealers vs. Manufacturers; Eclectic Doll World

About 1-1/4  hours into the drive, I was tempted to turn around and go back home. I left my house at 5 PM for the 41 mile trip to Philadelphia. Under 'normal' circumstances, the drive takes 50 minutes. Last night the traffic and weather were anything but normal. But I forged ahead, sometimes at 5 miles per hour and sometimes at 25 mph, finally arriving at my destination after 7 PM.  Philadelphia is a beautiful and interesting city seen through my touristy eyes as I barely know it. Every time I see the facade of the art museum or the clock tower in Center City, I am enthralled. Anyway, next time I will head into the city in the afternoon, not during rush hour in a storm. Duh.

Happily Ever After is one of the last remaining brick and mortar doll stores anywhere. It is tucked into a charming part of Philly which (I believe) is part of Antique Row.  Like so many other small businesses they have suffered from the massive movement to buying on-line. Ed, the owner, told me that there were once quite a few doll and toy stores in the area. Another devastating blow is being dealt to these stores by those manufacturers who are now selling directly to collectors, in some cases selling goods at the same price the dealers would be paying. For example, yesterday Tonner Doll offered some amazing deals on Basic Cami dolls. A collector could purchase a Cami for about $45. with free shipping. If that is what a doll dealer pays for the doll, how can they possibly sell it to a collector and hope to make money?

It is a serious conflict of interest. Why would you compete with your dealers? As a collector who shops for the best prices, I'm going to avoid a dealer who is selling a doll for more than I have to pay elsewhere. I may also wait to buy a product if I see that the price always drops. No one runs a business solely to have fun. Businesses exist to make money. I see both sides of the issue. Of course the collector benefits from lower prices but we lose dealers. How many of us have doll stores near home where we can go and see the dolls in person? Very few.

Back to the club meeting...
The theme was the Swinging 60's. We were asked to bring a doll that was either manufactured during that period of time or one that was dressed in an appropriate fashion. I brought a Somers and Field Willow doll called GoGo.
I have a neat collection of these Mod British Birds but they are all in boxes as I'm planning to sell them. I've been planning this for a few years but every time I look at them, I find a reason to put them back and wait. At least one of the girls got out of her box last night.

The presenter dressed as a hippie and also brought along a load of dolls manufactured in the 1960's, most of which I had never heard of before.

We ate pizza and cheesecake and had Show and Tell. That was fun.
Chew and Tell
 I took only a few photos as I was more interested in listening. There were many more (and larger) dolls presented.







A point I want to emphasize is the value of seeing the broader picture of the doll world. You may know that my collection is quite eclectic but doesn't include any vintage dolls. A good percentage of the attendees who were there last night are vintage collectors. The benefit of the mix is you realize that your little world of modern fashion dolls is but a tiny fraction of the doll collecting world. I've come across collectors wouldn't spend a minute of their time looking at dolls they don't collect. I admit to sometimes being one of those collectors. I laugh at the reborn dolls - they do freak me out. I've only seen vintage French dolls from 18th and 19th centuries in museums.  I put down the cheap Barbie dolls without articulation. I don't care for vintage Barbie and know nothing about them but I appreciate the love others have for these dolls. There's a place for all of them. My dolls aren't better than your dolls; they're just mine.


I could definitely fall for these Mignonettes:

http://www.antiquetoychest.com/category/dolls/german-bisque-dolls/page/2/

http://www.rubylane.com/item/405753-572/All-Original-Mignonette-Presentation-box78

Sigh...look at this on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Old-little-box-with-French-Mignonette-and-accessories-/300919212231?pt=US_Dolls_Bears_Toys&hash=item46102ec8c7

I'd definitely have to play with these. Why did I look?

10 comments:

  1. Awww, you're so lucky! I used to live in Philly, and was one of the founding members of the Center City Doll Club. I keep meaning to get back there for a meeting. I know Ed and Happily Ever After quite well. It is a HUGE shame that brick-and-mortar shops are few and far between now. I absolutely love wandering around an actual shop for ages, looking at dolls in person rather than online.

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    1. Groovy! You should go back. I'm sure Ed and the other long-time members would love to see you.

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  2. What cute accessories for those Mignonette sets! I'm a sucker for miniature accessories.

    What fun to go to a doll club and a store. Don't have either in my area. I'm not sure if there ever was a club, but the last doll store closed in the 90s.

    At least you affirmed that no matter the era, you have expensive taste :)

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  3. One of the things I love about doll collecting is that diversity. :)

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  4. My suggestion to Tonner would be to price the dolls reasonably. A basic doll that once was $49 is now $109. I'm interested in the Scarlett OUTFITS but have limited space and need another huge box with a doll like a hole in the head. It also doesn't help a consumer when you pre-order and the manufactured doll doesn't look like the prototype. I have NEVER understood why a doll couldn't be returned: why would I willingly swallow a $160+ "mistake" on Tonner's behalf? Burned too many times, RT, I'll NEVER pre-order ANYTHING again.

    If I'm meant to have ANY doll or doll item, it will either come to me at theprice I'm comfortable paying--or it won't--and in either case, I'll live.

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  5. I wish I knew you were coming in to town. I live three blocks away, I would have taken you to dinner or met you for lunch before hand. I never go to the Club Meetings as I don't really collect beyond a small niche, tho Rebecca has asked, but Ed is a great guy and it's fun to sometimes see dolls in his windows.

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    1. I'll be back! I'd like to meet you.
      Terri

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  6. Thanks for sharing the photos and your experience at the HEA doll club meeting. The Sixties theme looks fun. Usually, I prefer playscale modern fashion dolls from 1966-Present. (Like the two Get Set dolls I bought from HEA years ago.) Sometimes, it is fun to see other dolls. Except for bigger Blythes and two-headed dolls - they creep me out, lol

    I have wanted to attend a HEA meeting for YEARS now, but never got around to doing so because the meetings are at night. Someday, I tell myself. I am glad to see them in business. Nice to have a doll dealer locally.

    Thanks again for sharing your visit.

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