[Note: My apologies to those of you who received an email about this post yesterday. I had not yet finished it, and I hit the “post” button too soon.] 😦
Last week I ventured to Lakeland, Florida, a small town about an hour from my house in Tampa, to attend a doll show. I’ve always thought that “doll shows” were misnamed, as they are actually just a gathering of second-hand sellers offering their wares to collectors in pursuit of a good bargain. I’d been to this “show” before. It is held in a city municipal building in a large room reserved for community events, and it is sponsored by The Tropical Doll Study Club. This doll club is comprised mostly of older ladies who shy away from modern dolls in favor of child vintage and antique dolls, and the offerings at this show reflect that. I’d last attended the annual show two years ago, and the slight attendance made me fear that this event, like many other doll gatherings, was on its way out due to waning interest.
My experience this year was quite different, as I was barely able to get into the door just one hour after the event began. I’d previously been on the younger side of the other attendees at this event, but this time I was the youngest by at least 25 years. I found myself shuffling around a room crowded with ladies well into their 70s to 90s sporting perfectly coiffed snow-white hair, many with canes, walkers, and motorized wheelchairs.
Politely holding back from the crowd of hunched backs weighed down by years of osteoporosis, I waited my turn to examine each table’s offerings. There was a huge range in doll quality and price. The dolls ranged from beat-up vintage child dolls that vendors were trying to liquidate by nearly giving them away to high-end, well-preserved antique dolls selling for thousands of dollars. I know nothing about valuing vintage and antique dolls, so I don’t know if there were any “deals” to be had. There was a handful–and I do mean handful–of modern fashion dolls along the lines of Tyler and Gene, but the vendors obviously hadn’t priced them on eBay lately, as they were asking two to three times of what the dolls currently go for.
My personal “find” of the day was located at the back of the room, where I found box upon box of hundreds–perhaps thousands–of old doll magazines. Since I myself hold on to every doll magazine I have ever acquired and occasionally enjoy looking through them and reminiscing, I immediately started going through them. There was everything from Doll Crafter to FDQ, and some of the magazines went back to the early 1980s. I plopped myself down beside the boxes (no easy feat, as I was wearing a dress for a wedding that I was to attend later in the day), and I began combing through them. In about 45 minutes, I had put aside about a dozen magazines to purchase. I walked up to the nearest person–who I assumed was selling the magazines–and asked her how much she wanted for them. She replied that they were placed there by several vendors who wanted to get rid of them and so were “giving them away.”
“And I have a couple boxes of doll books,” she added. “Would you be interested in those too?”
Needless to say, I spent the next hour or so assembling pile upon pile of doll magazines and books, and then I made several trips to my car to transport them all. Standing at the back of my small SUV, I observed my find and reflected on the reaction of my husband—who had just recently went on a rant about how I never throw anything away and how our garage is filled to the top with doll crap—upon seeing my haul.
And then I closed the door with a shrug.
I had a bit more time before I had to leave for the wedding, so I ventured back and looked over the items in a charity auction. They were pretty sad—mostly small, worthless dolls and teddy bears that people obviously wanted to get rid of. Still, it was for charity, so I bought a few tickets.
At this point, all of the jostling among elderly doll collectors and leaning over heaps of old magazines had made me hungry. Several ladies were selling pulled pork sandwiches, scooping the fragrant meat from well-worn crock pots. I ordered one, and I have to say that it was the best damned pulled pork sandwich I’ve ever tasted. I followed it up with a couple homemade cookies being sold by a benevolent-looking grandma, and I made it to the door, satiated by dolls and home cooking.
It was a very, very good day.