We’re Moving on up to the West Side
The Little Dollhouse Company is a colourful shop in uptown Toronto. It’s jam-packed full of dollhouses and 50,000 miniatures, and at one time I knew 49,999 of them. All that customer and stock information is slowly being pushed out of my brain, replaced by story structure, dangling modifiers, character development and the ever popular “to comma or not to comma.”
When I first started working there, it was operated by a lovely curmudgeon of a man who had run it for 20 years. It was a quiet shop, with the Music of Nature floating out of the Radio Shack tape recorder that was tucked away. Often I stood behind the counter, eyes drooping, being lulled to sleep by the cheery tunes from woodland songbirds or the gentle swish of an ocean wave.
Most afternoons he left for the day at 2:30. At 2:32 the nature tape was tossed, and Led Zeppelin was popped in.
In 2000, the present owner arrived and EVERYTHING changed. The shop got hit with a massive shot of new-owner energy. She filled it up with new lines and exciting items. Soon that little shop was overflowing; it was like being the stuffing inside a Thanksgiving turkey: squished, over-heated and soggy.
Within two years, we had outgrown the space. Looking to the future, the owner bought the giant building across the street. We were moving to the west side.
The quiet little shop became a large lively store, with beautiful wooden floors the colour of autumn wheat that squeaked and moaned to alert us to customers.
In each corner of the store hung a speaker where a variety of music, depending on the day, season or staff whims, was piped through.
Easy listening would be silenced and big band would suddenly come blasting through. In the middle of the store, the owner and her husband (who now worked there) would break into one of their dance routines, surprising both staff and customers.
During the festive season, Christmas music was played but not until after the Santa Claus Parade. Two songs--All I want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) and The Christmas Shoes—were banned, because both are dreadful.
Twelve years of retail exposes you to a wide variety of people and situations.
Next time part two: “I want a brunette, can she be at my place by 7? Credit card info is…”
Decades of working in a variety of fields led to a pursuit of a writer’s life. Peggy has a knack for writing cover copy for romance novels and a love of vintage VWs. With her eye on the Golden Pie Server trophy, her spare time is spent training for the family’s annual pie-baking competition. Last year she placed third...there were three entries.