Dolls and Doll-related Items for Sale

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Doll Show August 24, 2014, Strongsville, OH

Since I've recently developed a heightened interest in doll collecting again, I decided I'd like to attend some doll shows. When I lived in Columbus, OH, there was a big one there once a year that I went to a couple of times, but that was about fifteen years ago. I found a few doll shows coming up that are relatively close, so I decided to check some out. The first one I went to was last Sunday, at the Holiday Inn in Strongsville.

The first impression I got was how very, very young I felt... and I'm not. I'm closer to fifty than forty, but I think just about every vendor and shopper there had at least a few years on me. No minors at all, that I remember. I mean, a toddler could have meant behavior issues, but an older girl out with her mum would have been nice to see. Who am I to talk, though; neither of my daughters are interested in dolls anymore. They were never overly interested in dolls as little girls, either.

There were all kinds of dolls there, although I think antique dolls were the most represented. They were all far out of my current budget, and I'd want to do some research before I purchased a doll at show; if I am going to spend hundreds of dollars on a doll, I want to be one of the types I like best. Also, I'd like to make sure I'm paying an acceptable price.

As far as the more modern dolls, there was just about everything there, from vintage Barbie to American Girls. Some older Kewpie dolls. Tonner stuff was very lightly represented, although it amazed me how much better some things looked "in the vinyl" than they appear online. A few items from lines that haven't been around for a while, like a Willow and Daisy outfit. Some older Gene stuff. A few Sashas. Only one woman was selling home-sewn garments, mostly simple dresses for smaller BJDs and some things for Tonner's Ann Estelle size 10 inchers. Not much at all GI Joe or superhero related (I know some of my online friends collect these.) :-D A few tables of what I can loosely describe as "junk." Older things that weren't necessarily all that popular or valuable when they first came out. There were some pretty steep discounts on that kind of stuff.

Final impression: how unserious some of these vendors seemed. Yes, I got there a little late in the day, with only a couple of hours left until closing. Still, several sellers seemed more interested in talking with their friends or other sellers than noticing customers. That put me off even asking questions. Often times, the chatters were even blocking part of the table, so I couldn't see all of the merchandise. Not a good way to sell your stuff! Judging by what some vendors were saying, sales don't seem to have been as good lately as they have in the past. I'd put that more on a changing market and possibly fewer younger collectors than completely on any unprofessionalism, though. I was actually going to buy a doll, but I thought the price was a little high for a doll without the box. So I asked the woman at the table if she had it. She told me that she was only a friend of the seller, and that the seller didn't usually have boxes. The friend then looked perplexed, pulled out a Tupperware tub from under the table, slid it back underneath, then said again that the seller usually doesn't keep boxes. So that was that. Since she wasn't the owner, I couldn't even try to negotiate for a lower price. I'm not a box collector, but it's still nice to have the original box for a collectible.

So speaking of buying, I'm sure all of you are thinking, "Did you actually buy anything? Where's the loot?!" Well, I did buy some things but they may not be very exciting if you aren't interested in sewing for your dolls, or dressing them historically. Still, here are the pictures!

I got Samantha's kimono robe for $10. It is tagged Pleasant Company. Wrinkled from being folded in a bag, but it's hand washable, so that should mostly fix it up. There were a few other older AG historical pieces, but most of them were white, and I could not tell for certain if there was any dinginess to them based on the fluorescent lighting, so I let those go.

Then, since I didn't buy any dolls, I spent money on fabric and trims instead, plus one antique pattern magazine. The Delineator was a woman's fashion magazine, put out periodically by the company that sold Butterick sewing patterns. They are relatively inexpensive to buy now, and I think were targeted at the home sewer and not just the upscale women's seamstress, so they are a good representative of what was in style for more everyday people.

The wine-colored material is a silk. It might make a Christmas dress for mini Samantha, and I'll have plenty for other doll clothes. Cotton voile is a very light cotton. I've heard it might be good for lining. I don't know how well that will work out, but the only other very thin cotton I saw was cut in yardage more than I wanted to spend. I've never worked with voile before, anyway, and I should know a little something about it, since it was used often around the turn of last century. I was tempted by some striped cotton dimity fabric, but that's used for summer dresses.

The trims I just thought would be nice to have. The red, white and blue one will be nice for Fourth of July, Flag Day, Veteran's Day type stuff next year. That was inexpensive enough, and different from the normal red/white/blue ribbons, to be purchased now. Insertion is always useful for the turn of the century seamstress. The teal velvet ribbon I thought will look gorgeous on a dress of a slightly different teal.

I know some of you have talked about doll shows that you've attended. Anyone else have any experiences that they want to mention? What do you look for at a doll show?


  1. Love the new header image!

    It's a shame the doll convention didn't turn out to be a better experience (although I like the things you did find). It's been a few years since I've been to any kind of toy convention, but I might be going to Dollism (the BJD convention that's happening in Buffalo in a couple of weeks), so hopefully I'll have some convention stories to share then.

  2. Congratulations on getting the lovely kimono - looks silky smooth. Also on the patterns, fabric, and notions.

    I haven't been to a doll show in years, but I remember that closed-to-outsiders vibe among some of the dealers. They usually didn't have anything that I wanted, but even if they did, I'd get it elsewhere. Customer service counts. And part of that is being attentive BEFORE the potential buyer crashes in on "private" conversations.

    I like friendly and alert vendors. Talking to people who have NO interest in dolls or no interest in modern dolls is NO fun. So vendors who relatives "cover" tables - that works against you. What collector wants to talk to someone who'd rather be someplace else or who despises the hobby?

    I like to see clean stuff, NRFB stuff, and modern stuff. I only glance at the antiques and most of the doll artist stuff. Unusual is nice, too. Shared interest. That's what I would look for at a doll show.

  3. Ooops. I meant to type "vendors whose relatives" - ack! Hasty clicking ;-)

  4. jSarie, glad you like the header. It is back to school time here at la Casa de Evil Genius. Hope you can get some pictures at the BJD convention. People are so creative with them.

    D7ana, you would probably have been pretty disappointed with this show. Most of the dolls were out of the box. Loads of antiques, and of course, neither those nor the "junk" were particularly clean. Honestly, that doll I almost bought would have been a total impulse purchase. I am content with where my collection of that type of doll is at, but she looked so adorable in real life that I was going to take the plunge. I've just seen too many prices for that type of doll on eBay to just plunk that money down. And I was put off to find she doesn't even keep the boxes. They're great for storage or moving, or even just taking the doll home!

    Shared interest is a great way of thinking about it. I don't know that I saw that with any of the vendors. I'll be going to another one soon, so I hope it will be better.

  5. Hey, at least they have doll shows in your area! I love the stuff you bought. Did you get a chance to use anything yet?

    1. I'm sorry to say I haven't used anything yet. I'm determined to at least make mini Samantha a Christmas dress with the wine-colored silk.