You may remember that old ad slogan, “You’ve got to be in it to win it!” It can be applied to many areas in life. If you want to get the most out of any project, occupation, or hobby, you have to get up, get out, and get involved. The more time and interest you expend, the greater the benefits you reap!
One of the most rewarding pastimes for a doll collector is attending a show. In addition to viewing aisles and booths bursting with dolls, there are chances to chat with artists and appraisers, meet and mingle with like-minded folks, take part in seminars and musical events, even enter raffle drawings to win show specials or other prize packages.
DOLLS magazine had the chance to chat with some leading luminaries who know a thing or two about the world of doll shows. Busy promoters Terry Quinlan, Dorothy Drake, Nancy C. Felix-Moore, and Stacey Haskins took time out of their hectic schedules to share an enormous amount of wisdom and insight, while Connie Reynolds, the secretary-treasurer and director of membership for the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC), spoke at length about why doll collectors should walk away from their laptops and take a lap around a convention hall. Immersing yourself in a doll show can easily become an annual tradition for collectors!
“The greatest doll show occurs each summer through the UFDC’s world-class salesroom, in conjunction with its annual business meeting and convention,” Connie Reynolds said. “This summer, UFDC’s Convention takes place in Phoenix, Ariz., from July 21 through July 28. The convention theme is Passport to Adventure, with Ruby Red Galleria providing the souvenir doll.”
UFDC members can enjoy a week overflowing with seminars, meals, banquets, workshops, and more. The knowledgeable dealers in the salesroom are passionate about doll collecting and offer dolls of all kinds — antique, vintage, and modern — as well as related merchandise.
“If you can’t get away for a whole week of doll fun, then consider attending Public Day, when the salesroom is open to the public for one day only — Saturday, July 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can enjoy the salesroom, as well as the Artist Showcase, and check out Publisher’s Preview, where you’ll meet doll-expert authors with their latest books on sale,” Reynolds said.
While collectors can view images of dolls in magazines and online, the best way to examine a potential purchase is to come face-to-face with the actual doll. Reynolds believes that wholeheartedly: “There’s nothing quite like seeing — perhaps even holding — a doll in person and getting lost in her presence. Maybe it’s her gorgeous eyes or exquisite costume, or getting to speak with the dealer in person about her attributes. Just being in a room full of doll people is enough to get one’s heart racing. We all share a common bond, which creates an instant kinship. Conversation is easy. Simply ask, ‘What do you collect?’ and stand back as collectors unleash their passion. It’s like enjoying your favorite food, only without the calories!”
The Wichita Antique Doll Study Club held the first Wichita Doll Show last September. Wichita show promoter, author, and doll expert Nancy C. Felix-Moore has high hopes for the 2018 show, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Rock Road in Wichita, Kan.
“We expect to have dealers with dolls from large to miniature, antique to modern, vintage to BJD and paper dolls, with other doll-related items. Our first show was so successful that we have doubled the floor space for the second annual Wichita Doll Show,” Moore said.
The get-together is the only doll show within a 200-mile radius of Wichita. Centrally located near the interstate, the site is also near restaurants and malls, ideal for venturing out alone or with friends who want to make a day of it.
Moore stressed that a doll show is not just about buying; it’s also about learning and socializing. “Even if you attend a doll show with no intention of purchasing anything, you will learn from the experience while having fun! You never know what dolls you will see, and you get to see the dolls up close and personal,” Moore said. “You can ask the seller questions about a doll, learn what makes that doll special, and what the market for it is. You get to meet new friends, catch up with old friends, and visit with artists and authors who, like you, enjoy all things related to dolls!”
One popular display at the first Wichita show was I Remember That — Toys of Our Childhood. It featured toys and dolls from the 1930s to today. “Plans are in the works to create another special exhibit and activities,” said Moore, the author of “BAPS Dolls and Puppets: The History and Study of the German BAPS Dolls and Puppets.” She added, “There is always so much to learn about the history of dolls. One of our dealers is Pat Boldt, a well-known juried doll artist who has given workshops around the world. We all look forward to meeting you and your friends at the second annual Wichita Doll Show!”
Decades of Experience
Since the mid-1990s, Dorothy Drake has been producing and promoting doll shows. For 2018, she’s hosting 11 shows on the West Coast. Humorously wondering “if this longevity makes me a dinosaur,” Drake knows a great deal about the doll world. Thanks to her decades-long involvement in putting together the Crossroads Doll & Teddy Bear Shows, charitable events, awards ceremonies, and seminars, she has had a bird’s-eye view of how the collectibles world has evolved over the past 20+ years.
“For the past several years, the number of people attending in order to gather information on selling their dolls has increased dramatically. Doubly interesting is that many become fascinated with the depth of the hobby and often come back again. This past year, I have seen a rise in young people attending at every show. One theory is that doll collecting skipped a generation,” Drake said. “Another observation is that parents are actively showing children that there is something other than a video game. We are seeing some success in this area. The tweens are coming to the shows with their own money and being very discerning about what they buy. That is pretty cool.”
Drake knows that it is essential to cultivate a relationship with young people, to welcome them into the fold so that doll collecting remains relevant. “Our current up-and-coming buying generation is a tough sell, but there is a key. If they understand why they should collect, they will. So our job is to educate, educate, and educate! This is where every possible medium comes into play.”
Understanding that technology is important in spreading the word about doll collecting and the Crossroads shows, Drake has an active presence online. “On the Internet, I make it a point to learn something about people that I deal with so that we can form some sort of connection. At shows, I make an effort to talk to the majority of people that walk through the door. What’s the difference? There is an instant connection at a show — particularly if the event is festive, upbeat, and there is a buzz in the room. That just doesn’t happen online,” she said. “Also, every single person you meet at the show has a story about a doll — test it out! You don’t hear that online, but you do in person.”
Over the years, Drake has noticed some interesting and common behaviors at shows. “Over 90% of the people looking at a doll at a show will lift its skirt! Well, that’s certainly not available online. And we don’t just talk about dolls,” Drake said. “We talk about our hair, our shoes, what we have endured, and where we’ve traveled. With 11 shows in six cities, I can honestly say that every exhibitor and every person that attends is part of our Crossroads family.”
Drake is hands-on in making sure her attendees have a memorable and enjoyable time. “Our goal is to have some kind of interesting event at every show, including in-booth demonstrations, free appraisals, and doll stringing. The one thing we don’t want to do is take away from a collector’s shopping time, so we keep most educational activities at vendor booths,” Drake said.
The vendors at Crossroads events have show specials, which Drake encourages them to prominently display: “We even provide the signs! I’ve never gone to one of my shows where there has not been something on display that was rare, unusual, and never seen before. This is part of the fun! We always have raffles and games for collectors to enjoy and win prizes. We also sponsor tables in the sales area for philanthropic groups such as the Seattle Children’s Hospital, Good Bears of the World, and the UFDC for their fund-raising efforts. Groups and clubs, like the Nancy Ann group, have joined us to educate attendees on their wonderful mission.”
To bolster attendance, fuel enthusiasm, and make Crossroads shows more affordable, Drake offers discounted admission through postcard mailings and flyer distribution. She’s proud that her shows have continued to flourish for more than 20 years. “A doll show is a place to enjoy, laugh, and find treasures. Many people are escaping from day-to-day stuff,” Drake said. “I get hundreds of e-mails thanking the Crossroads team for continuing the shows. This makes it so worthwhile.”
Find out more at dolls4all.com
Elevating the Art
Susan and Terry Quinlan have hosted the Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Convention for seven years. Usually held in early May, the 2018 convention took place April 12 to April 14 at the Clarion Hotel near the Philadelphia Airport. The Saturday portion of the convention — the Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Show & Sale — is open to the public.
Since 2011, the Quinlans’ event has rivaled a world-class museum with its diversity and original motifs. “We have promoted our Artist Show & Sale as the largest gallery of artist dolls and bears, because that’s what artist shows really are. They are galleries of one-of-a-kind (OOAK) and very limited edition pieces of art. They’re just different forms of artwork not typically seen anywhere else,” Terry Quinlan said. “Most dolls and bears are manufactured, whether they’re antique or contemporary, but artist pieces are handmade and as rare, unique, and special as a painting or sculpture.”
The Quinlans are overjoyed that artists stretch beyond their limitations and mine their psyches for unexpected and surprising creations to display. “Many doll artists view themselves as creators of figurative sculptures. Just go and look around. Many people go with no intention of buying anything. They just want to spend the day doing something different, as they would by going to a museum. If you’re looking for something new to do to get out of the house on a Saturday or Sunday, try a doll show,” Quinlan said. “Whether you want to shop or just walk around, you will see things you normally do not see.”
Quinlan also recommended doll shows as a destination for the budget-minded and for curiosity seekers. “Shows are also a good place for those who like garage sales, as many times there are used items at reduced prices. Shows are great places for finding birthday and Christmas gifts, regardless of when the show is held,” he said.
“For doll shows and conventions to compete with online shows and sales, organizers have to stop doing the same old thing. Growth and progress is based on innovation, taking risks, and staying the course. They need to rethink the purpose of their event, how they treat artists, the best location for the event, economics to attendees, types and amount of things for sale, hotel staff service if meals are served, sponsors to subsidize the event cost, and truth in advertising — stop calling it a doll show when you allow teddy bears, furniture, supplies, clothing, and other non-doll items in large quantities,” Quinlan said. “And ask yourself if the program is of interest to the artists, collectors, spouses, children, and those who do not currently collect dolls or bears.”
Broadening the collector base and providing entertainment for attendees’ spouses and children has always been a high priority for the Quinlans. Terry said, “Many collectors go to shows to share a day with a friend, child, grandchild, spouse, or doll club — something not available online. Many collectors are getting to an age that they need to decide what to do with their collections. Most collectors have waited too long because ‘my children or grandchildren have no interest in the collection.’ Collectors need to start taking them to doll events early on, but events need to include things that are fun for kids.”
Both a pragmatist and an optimist, Terry Quinlan has several ideas for handling this issue: “Walking up and down aisles shopping isn’t fun for kids. Show organizers need to offer things that are fun for kids, and collectors need to take kids to conventions where there are activities — games, entertainment, workshops, presentations — that interest kids, things not available from online shopping. Organizers need to think outside the box, e.g., apps of interest to kids that they can experience only at the show and are unaware they exist; competitive games on cell phones with a prize for the winner. Additionally, we have presentations for spouses, for example, Investment Experiences and Strategies: From Blackjack to Collectables to the Stock Market by Terry Quinlan and How to Brew Beer at Home by Daniel Kelly, spouse of doll artist Theresa Kelly.”
In addition, some artists don’t have an online presence. It’s not that they’re anti-technology, but they have not hopped onto the social-media bandwagon. Attending a live event like the Quinlans’ may be the only opportunity to see a cyber-shy artist’s handiwork. “At a show, you may see new artists you did not know existed. Something you cannot see and appreciate online is how jointing is used to move and rotate parts of the body or how objects are suspended in air, like many dolls by artist Mark Dennis. Artists can bring a wide range of dolls, some of which may be very new and not yet available online. When those dolls reflect new materials and techniques, you could be the first to see, at the show, the new style and direction of the artist’s work, which could reflect significant changes,” Terry said.
In their 2012 collector survey, the Quinlans uncovered a treasure-trove of reasons why shows and conventions matter. “We found that by far the most important reason collectors shop at shows and conventions is to touch and feel the pieces,” Terry said. “Other major reasons are to see their favorite sellers, spend time with artists/dealers, and see the greatest variety of pieces. As to what determines the shows they attend most frequently, the main influences are convenience (short distance away), habit (been going for years), participants (favorite artists/dealers), and variety (greatest number of pieces for sale) — most of which are not available online.”
Find out more at www.quinlanmuseum.com
Growing & Going Places
The International Doll & Teddy Show (ID&TS) will hold its fifth annual event in a new venue. The first show, held in Asheville, N.C., in 2014, attracted about 50 vendors and just over 300 collectors. With its move to Orlando, Fla., this year, organizers are expecting more than 100 vendors and up to 1,000 collectors. ID&TS offers workshops June 25-27, followed by the Artist Expo & Sale June 29 and 30.
“Collectors attending ID&TS will find doll supplies and plush of all kinds at the show this year,” said Stacey Haskins, who partnered with Georgie Brown to establish the show. “We have artists that make and sell everything from reborns in vinyl and silicone to OOAK dolls and BJDs made from porcelain, vinyl, and even wood. We also have an array of plush artists as well. Our artists come from all corners of the globe to showcase, mingle, and sell directly to collectors.”
Being able to see, touch, and hold the dolls is what makes the show experience so exciting, Haskins said, adding, “you simply cannot conceive the fine attention to detail these pieces hold unless you see them in person. Another great aspect is meeting artists in person and making connections with other people who share your interests. Lifelong friends have been made at ID&TS — some people come year after year just so they can see their friends.”
In addition to classes and the exhibit hall, ID&TS events for 2018 include the annual Awards Banquet Friday, June 29, where DOLLS staff will announce the Industry’s Choice winners in this year’s Dolls Awards of Excellence competition, and the ID&TS Outstanding Artistry awards will be presented. DOLLS magazine also sponsors a special artist signing event before the banquet. A Reborn Baby Shower is scheduled for Saturday evening.
Find out more at www.internationaldollandteddyshow.com
So whether it involves packing a suitcase for a multiday convention or setting aside a weekend morning to stroll through exhibits and sales booths, a doll show is a delightful destination!