Gosh, where do I begin? Do I say something cute or clever with a catchy byline? Shall I begin with an intro like they do in 12-Step programs? Gazing out into the hallway at the cabinet holding my hundred-plus doll collection, I contemplate my own addiction and think perhaps that is an appropriate starting point.
A Dollyholic is Born
Hello, my name is Mish and I’m a “dollyholic.” I started collecting dolls as a hobby in 2009 about the same time as I began selling excess household items on eBay to compensate for the loss of income during seasonal slowdowns at my job. My collection started out with several special edition Barbie dolls inherited from my late mother, an avid doll collector herself in later years. It wasn’t exactly my first collection. I had a troll doll collection from the mid-1990’s, but I didn’t really consider them dolls, just cute little whatchamacallits with fuzzy brightly-colored hair and magic wishing gems in their belly buttons. (Troll dolls were apparently the early originators of body piercing.) Most of my trolls I got for free, received as gifts from co-workers who generously shared their obsession. Troll dolls and Beanie Babies were popular desktop mascots in most offices at the time. The big Troll Doll Bubble collapsed at about the same time as the big Beanie Baby Bubble collapsed and troll dolls could be had for as little as a couple dollars apiece as the novelty wore off and stores started dumping their inventory of both, realizing that the inflated quantities that saturated the market negated any positive investment value. Sound familiar? The only company to survive was Norfin, which was licensed by the DAM Troll Company and still exists today, though under different ownership.
As a child, I was never that interested in dolls. Of course, my mother bought me dolls and I did have occasional spurts of mommy-play with them, but overall I much preferred die-cast cars and model horses. I never understood an elderly woman’s obsession with Barbies and Cabbage Patch dolls until, perusing the doll listings on eBay one evening, I discovered a Chatty Cathy doll that looked amazingly like my beloved childhood Chatty. I had to have her and soon after, added an additional set of four 1960’s Chatty Cathys snatched up from one seller in a single purchase on eBay, my first big purchase paid for with profits from my own eBay sales. And so my addiction began and my collection grew.
eBay – Doll Heaven for Collectors. Want to Buy a Haunted Doll?
For the doll collector, eBay is a paradise. I don’t think I’ve ever found another commercial site that has quite as large a selection of vintage and contemporary dolls, enough to satisfy even the most hard-core dolly addict. Whatever kind of doll you’re looking for, eventually you will find it on eBay. I’ve seen some pretty rare and obscure dolls listed for sale there that I’m pretty sure, if it was not for eBay, would’ve gone on to Dolly Heaven, never to be seen again. Of course, some are probably better off in the landfill. For sure, I’ve seen my share of creepy-looking dolls that rival even the most creepy clown. These include those infamous reborn dolls that look so real that even the police have broken car windows, convinced that they were rescuing a “baby” left alone in a locked vehicle. There is even a whole category of haunted dolls on eBay, complete with their own haunted histories which, even if not entirely credible, are at least fascinating to read. Yes, people actually do buy haunted dolls! Not me, though I’ve spent hours perusing the doll listings, learning enough over the years to fill two large binders with notes and printouts. Though other sites are becoming more popular with doll collectors, Etsy and ShopGoodwill being two of them, eBay still is, in my opinion, the best place to buy and sell vintage dolls.
Dollyholic Becomes Entrepreneur – A Hobby Becomes a Business
What started out as my hobby soon became my side business, in addition to my full-time job, and soon I was putting a great deal of my profits right back into eBay to finance my doll habit. Of course, I did resell many of them, but I kept a lot of them too, as you can see by the photos. I branched off from selling my excess “stuff” around the house to selling vintage collectibles purchased during my shopping trips to thrift stores, flea markets and from other eBay sellers. Fast forwarding to the present, 2016 finds me revisiting that side business after a four-year hiatus of being caregiver to my elderly father and second-cousin. Now, with both of them safely residing in assisted living and me ready to return to the workforce, I’ve had to face the grim reality that due to osteoarthritis slowly eating away at my joints, I won’t be returning to full-time work at an outside job. Just about every job I’ve applied for or considered applying for requires me to do things that my body simply can no longer do. Working at home instead on the computer will allow me to not only work around my health issues, but to also use the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to do the one thing I’m truly good at and that I love to do.
Work is enjoyable now and more like play, although, make no mistake, entrepreneurship and working for oneself carries risk that working an outside job for someone else does not. Time goes by fast now and I never seem to have enough time in the day to get all the things done that I had planned to do. Not only am I and I alone responsible for how much or how little money I make in a month or a season, so is the economy. Can I make it work? Will my business survive these first few years, that deadly time frame during which many small businesses fails? With some slight wiggle room financially, I think I’ve at least got a very good chance if I don’t get discouraged and just hold onto my passion. It will take lots of work, self-discipline and long hours, but long hours spent doing what I love to do and what I’ve actually been doing for free all along. Do I have what it takes to take it up a notch and be a true entrepreneur? To think like a serious business person and not just as an enthusiastic collector? I find the business side of the business is not my most favorite part of owning a business. I just don’t “get” stock options, balance sheets, market value, assets versus revenue, etc. Yet this truly is my dream job and I can’t afford to blow it this time. More importantly, and perhaps rationalizing a bit, it’s an acceptable excuse to indulge in my own dolly addiction while bringing great merchandise to my customers. Which brings me to my favorite part of having a business, which is ,of course, sourcing the merchandise – the shopping at yard and estate sales, flea markets and thrift stores and the thrill of finding that hidden treasure at the bottom of a pile!
What You Can Look Forward to Here
So what should you look forward to reading here? Is there any subject I might cover here that you wouldn’t probably find somewhere else on the Internet? Well, truthfully, probably not. The Internet is saturated with information, much of it redundant. But what I do hope to bring to the table, as well as great merchandise and precious collectibles, are the back-stories and histories of those items, the sharing of what I’ve learned and hopefully to provide some lighthearted entertainment as well. If, through this blog, you gain the same appreciation and passion that I have for vintage collectibles and, in the process, recognize their importance as historical artifacts representing our cultural heritage and personal family histories, then my greatest hope is realized. Great-Grandma’s Jumeau Bebe will become much more to you than just a beat-up old doll.
Your Comments and Topic Suggestions are Welcome!
In closing, I hope that you bear with me over the coming months as I tweak my content, learn to upload photos and try always to share content which I think may be of interest. Other than dabbling some years ago with Blogger, this is my first truly serious endeavor at blogging. I’m wearing many hats at present, from shopkeeper to webmaster, and they don’t always fit me well. WordPress has a steep learning curve and, at times, can be an unforgiving platform to work with.
Please feel free to email me with comments or subject ideas for future articles. I’m always open to suggestions and objective criticism. And on that positive note, I’ll end with the farewell line that was forever immortalized by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy trails to you ’til we meet again, Doll Lovers!” (I added the last part.)