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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Dublin’s 74-year-old doll hospital and teddy bear clinic closes today

Business was good at The Doll Store but expensive overheads mean it will only continue to trade online.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S HISTORIC DOLL hospital and teddy bear clinic is to close down today.

After 74 years of mending the dolls and teddy bears of Ireland, The Doll Store’s owner Melissa Nolan has decided to shut up shop.

Nolan told TheJournal.ie that the hard decision was made for purely business reasons.

“Business is good but the accumulation of overheads – rent, insurance, rates – became too much. We have tightened our belts as much as possible so we had to come to this decision last year,” she said.

The landlord tried to meet the tenants halfway in terms of rent but other factors, including the recession, meant the business location was no longer feasible.

Although there will be no physical presence on Georges Street anymore, The Doll Store will continue to trade online.

Nolan and her husband, who have been running the clinic for 28 years, are also looking for a space that they could turn into a children’s museum – an idea they hit upon following the outpouring of goodwill on news of the shop’s closure.

“We have been hit for six with the number of calls and visits,” she said. “People have come to say goodbye from all over the country.

We knew that we were different and that we were dealing with people’s treasures and sentiments but it has been an incredible emotional journey over the past couple of weeks.

The doll hospital was first established on Mary Street in 1938 and moved to its current George’s Street location in 1982. As one of the last remaining doll hospitals in the world, The Dollstore receives items for repair and restoration from other countries, particularly the US and Italy.

Ireland’s first teddy and doll musuem

“We’re now looking for a home that we could set up shop and incorporate a museum. We have so many dolls and teddy bears from over the years that are packed up and ready for storage,” continues Nolan.

It would be great if we could display them for people to enjoy. People have said they want to buy some of our counters or glass cases – which all come from the 1940s but if we sell them it would be hard to get them all back together again.”

As for Saturday, the Nolans are expecting another emotional day. Already this week they have been visited by many former customers, reliving their childhood memories.

“A 76-year-old woman came in yesterday and told us how she came to Dublin twice-a-year with her father and her first memory of the visits is coming to the store to pick a Christmas present,” she recalls. “She got very emotional being in the shop again.”

Have you any memories from The Doll Store? We’d love for you to share them in our comments section below.

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