~Denver Doll Emporium~

1ddebanner11

A decision to take her young daughters to a doll show years ago changed Paula’s life,” I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t go to that first local doll show that I saw advertised in the newspaper.  I went out of curiosity with Shannon and Kaley who were then just toddlers.  I thought it would be fun for them but it was ME who couldn’t leave.  The rest is DDE history!” Her doll store, Denver Doll Emporium, was launched as a post-retirement project by Paula in 1992. Her daughters by then were in college, and she had left her career as an interior designer. Paula started her new business in a tiny green stucco shop in old Denver. The original stock was made up mostly of dolls from the ’40’s and ’50’s. The little store grew, and a web retail site was eventually added.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABy the time her daughters were finishing college, Denver Doll Emporium had grown so much that Paula required help to run the business. The obvious place to turn was her daughters. “Daughter #2 (Kaley) came to work right after graduating from college.  It was going to be for the summer, and she was going back for her masters that fall.  She never left.  This was 1994.  Shannon (the oldest) graduated in 1990 and went to work for her father’s business (floor covering).  In 1997 we desperately needed her at the shop, so she jumped ship and became the third partner at DDE.  We each do different jobs and some of the same.  We all pitch in for sales and processing sales.  I’m the web boss and do all the web site stuff and about half of the ordering.  Shannon is office manager and does the other half of the  ordering.  Kaley is bookkeeper. 17 years and four moves later, my two daughters and I are partners in the doll business. A store full of vintage dolls has changed to a store full of Asian BJDs and all the accoutrements, plus dolls from many American manufacturers, baby dolls, artist dolls, cloth dolls and…. one small cabinet of vintage dolls (it’s hard to give up your roots).”

Denver Doll Emporium has become a favorite place for many customers to purchase their BJDs.  The retailer carries dolls from a variety of companies. According to Paula, “Asian BJDs became a huge part of our business about 5 years ago when I purchased our first BJD on Ebay…just to see what all the hubbub was about.  I bought a second hand Angelregion Amy for a reasonable price strictly as a curiosity, but we quickly fell in love with this genre of dolls.  We corresponded with Angelregion and soon set up an account.  From there we started carrying Elfdoll, Souldoll, DIM, and the ball was rolling.” The store has many dolls in stock and they can order any dolls available from the companies they carry. Along with the dolls, Denver Dolls carries everything a BJD lover could desire. ” What fun are the BJDs without clothes, shoes, eyes, wigs, lashes, etc?  This led to stocking all these items and more.  I can’t imagine DDE without the Asian dolls. They are not only a big part of our business…they are a big part of our lives! ” Paula feels that BJDs provide a special experience for collectors. “BJDs allow adults to play, create and share their hobby with others having the same intense interest.  You don’t just buy a collectible to sit on a shelf.  You invest in a doll that you can completely customize to your taste and with your talent turn it into a unique piece of art.  THEN you get to take photos and share it all with others who love doing the same thing.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAPaula collects a wide variety of dolls, and her daughters have also become collectors. “The girls both have dolls….Kaley loves the BJDs and antique dolls.  Shannon collected Barbie for a time and also loves the BJDs.  They have small collections. That’s all they can afford at this stage of their lives.  Both are married with small children.  I’ve collected forever, mostly antique dolls, some 1950s (my childhood era) dolls, and now BJDs.” She adds. “I love dolls….always have and always will!”

While the store is a very popular destination for doll lovers, the online site creates the bulk of DDE’s sales. Paula described the challenges, “Our online business is about 75% of total sales. Internet sales are the hardest.  With in-store customers, they come in, make a purchase, take it home with them.  When an order comes in online, there are just so many variables and steps to completing the order.  Then take into consideration that the person ordering hasn’t actually seen the item they are buying.  There is a lot more room for errors. Sometimes it takes many inquiries to complete an order (by email which takes longer),  payments don’t go through, addresses are wrong, the customer ordered the wrong size, etc.  When processing 50 orders a week, it’s pretty easy to work around the problems, but when you do 200 or so….it gets pretty intense!” While the store used to attend doll shows, they haven’t been able to do so for some time. “We used to do shows all the time, but to be honest, with business booming, we just don’t have the time or manpower to travel to shows much anymore.” They still like to host events in the store. “We’ve had artist signings, group meet ups, parties, get togethers, contests….you name it.”

DDE carries dolls from around 20 BJD companies from the US, Korea, and China. Paula states,”Fairyland makes the most popular dolls we’ve ever sold.  They are fabulous quality.  Great designs, engineering and presentation, I love everything about this company.  DollZone, Pipos, Souldoll, Charles’ Creatures…we love them all!” Paula also likes to offer the work of individual artists and designers in her store. “We love working with individual artists/designers. Their products are always great quality and unique.  Michele (Michele Hardy Design for Dolls) does our incredible Fwigs (fur wigs) and her own very unique style of clothing.  Wee Wardrobe has a completely different clothing design style which is always fun, creative and top quality.  We also work with Laurence from the Netherlands for wig caps, Bekka for the stunning one-of-a-kind Steampunk eyes, and Todd at TK Designs for the darling little handmade shoes.”

When asked what she likes best about the business, Paula replied. “Accomplishing our goals.  Doing it all ourselves.  I love the creative end of it; designing the web site, making the store attractive and “shoppable” (I love arranging and rearranging), meeting the collectors and the artists.” Will Paula ever get to retire? “I’m trying! I’m not at the shop all that much anymore, but keeping the web site up to date (which I do from home) keeps me very busy daily. Plus I babysit for the grandkids so Shannon and Kaley can be at the shop.” After creating her business from scratch and growing it into a family enterprise, Paula’s future hopes for the company are simple, “Continuing success would be good!”

Photos Above: Secret Doll Yoi, Pipos Red Queen from the Alice Series 3

Denver Doll Emporium Online Store

Gallery Album Photo Tour of the Denver Doll Emporium Store
~~~~~

Christmas Display Detail

Christmas Display Detail

Pipos and LittleFee

Pipos and LittleFee

A shelf in the Shoe Case

A shelf in the Shoe Case

Assorted Dolls on Display

Assorted Dolls on Display

Paula at Work

Paula at Work

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment