Saturday, January 3, 2015
How to Make Young Doll Collectors
You have to make an appointment to buy a Happy Meal for your own kid.
With a few exceptions, doll collectors and other in the antiques/collectible trades lament the fact that their population is growing older. Young people, I'll say those under 30, don't seem to be interested in dolls or collecting at all.
I get many letters from people who inherit very nice dolls, and can't wait to sell them or get rid of them. If it isn't online anymore, it's a dust catcher. Think about it; there are people born today who don't even know what a flip phone is, let alone a rotary dial phone or land line.
So, here are a few tips to encourage young doll collectors. We've talked about some before, but some are new. Many come from my own experience; remember, I started collecting dolls at age 3, and antique dolls at age 5.
1. If you have little girls in your life, or even little boys, save your dolls and action figures, even one or two will do. Pass them down to your children, and let them play with them. If it is too valuable or fragile, wait until later. My mother bought me collectible and old dolls even when I was 7 or 8 years old. I was super careful, because I knew they were collectibles, but we made clothes and furniture for them, took them on trips, arranged house for them, and generally enjoyed them. If something broke, she fixed it. Damage to a doll was lesson to me to be careful, and to study how a doll was made in order to repair it. Nothing turns a child off to anything more than giving her something terrific, and then telling her it has to stay on a shelf or in a box, with "don't touch!" as the rule.
2. Take your child with you when you hunt for dolls. Make sure she can find something to buy. If she is old enough to handle money, give her a few dollars. Pay her for chores so she can accumulate "doll" money.
3. Capitalize on popular dolls like Frozen, Monster High, Ever After, Polly Pockets, Lego and Playmobil Mini Figures, etc. Watch Mommie and Gracie the Doll Hunters on YouTube, and like them on Facebook. This mother/daughter doll collecting team is adorable and their enthusiasm is contagious. They are bonding and spending time together, which is what is important. "Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter," on YouTube and Blog Form is another great place to get family collecting ideas. This strategy works for collecting other things, too.
4. Get over the "hoarders" phobia. Collectors simply are not hoarders.
5. Join the Scouts; Girl and Boy Scouts have collecting badges. Girl Scouts have Barbie and doll collecting badges. There is also a Barbie Scout doll.
6. To build on #5; tie dolls in with your children's favorite media, e.g., Dr. Who figures, Smurfs, The Walking Dead figures, Game of Throne Figures, Star Wars and Star Trek figures, Angelina Ballerina, Curious George, etc. Do the same with storybook dolls from your children's favorite books. You encourage literacy along with collecting.
7. Teach your children to make dolls. The Net is full of patterns and ideas. Make paper dolls, simple or elaborate. You can turn them into cards and gifts for others. I'm told a paper doll house makes a great background for Polly Pockets. There are great books on folk dolls, craft dolls, art dolls, and more to get ideas. Visit the National Institute of American Doll Artists, N.I.A.D.A, for inspiration. author Shirley Jackson and her best friend made over 400 clothespin dolls; show your kids Uneek Doll Designs on Etsy.com to see what Deb Ritter can do with a little clothespin.
8. Have a doll show where you can display the dolls your children made, or where they can display their favorite dolls of many types. Go to UFDC.org, the United Federation of Doll Clubs site to see how they categorize dolls.
9. Doll Castle News magazine always features updates on junior collectors and their activities. Have a teddy bear picnic or doll teaparty. Have a doll themed or action figure themed birthday party and encourage kids to make accessories or dolls. Give out doll themed books as themes.
10. Go to Somethingunderthebed.com to see examples of "Doll Stars" and other doll magazines aimed at kids. American Girl has such a publication. Old copies of "Jack and Jill: and the iconic "Youth's Companion" have lots of ideas. Check for them online.
11. If you are a dealer, doll shop owner, or doll show promoter, have activities and merchandise set aside for kids. Don't assume youth means ignorance. I knew what a Bru was when I was 8. A little girl's allowance may not catch up with her doll expertise, but don't discourage her. Have dolls in kid price ranges. I love how Ruby Lane has doll items under $25.00. They are even categorize this way. Have a dollar table for kids, or do what people do at rock shows and coin shows; have giveaways for kids under 12. Paper dolls and old doll magazines are great giveaways. Old beanie toys, doll clothes, doll furniture, doll accessories, small plastic dolls form the 70s, cake decorations, and dollar store toys are great giveaways for kids. If they can find things accessible to them, kids will remember your business and will be encourages to keep collecting. They will learn and upgrade their collection as they go.
12. Build or put together a simple dolls house; use a book case if nothing else, and spend time with your child making things for it and decorating it.
13. Visit doll museums online and in person as often as you can. If you have a store or museum, have a play or hands on area where kids can actually experience the toys.
14. To attract the 10-18+ crowd, use social media. Find the free Google books, doll sites, YouTube channels, instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter accounts about dolls.
15. Halloween is a great time for dolls and doll costumes featuring dolls; take advantage of it. Making scarecrows and decorating pumpkins are doll related activities.
16. May Day, Easter, and Spring are great times to create fairy or miniature doll gardens. Grow flowers like hollyhocks or corn plants from which dolls are made. See my article, "Dolls, Flowers, and Gardens" for ideas.
17. Stress that dolls are fun, and can lead to successful businesses and careers. There is free book on Kindle called "How to Make Money with Dolls."
18. Take advantage of the information and activities at American Girl and if you can, to go American Girl place. AG has entertainment and charitable activities involving girls and dolls.
19. Read positive stories about dolls, like "A Little Princess," The Lonely Doll Books, the Little Doll Books, "Missing Melinda," The Doll Hospital Series, The Flora McFlimsey books, and more. See "A Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources" for ideas.
20. Don't push it. If your child is not interested at first, give her time. Sometimes, parents and grandparents collect dolls for their kids and put them away. When children love you, they love what you like. They will get interested in your dolls because they will want to know more about you.