“What’s up with the Barbies?”

“What’s up with the Barbies?”

unnamed-12It’s one of the most-asked questions at the shop and one of my favorite stories to tell. If you’ve been to the shop, you probably have noticed that we have a bowlful of Barbies and a Barbie chandelier. Here’s what’s up.

Before we opened four years ago, I went shopping for furniture and other decorations for the shop. I didn’t have anything specific in mind – certainly not a Barbie chandelier – but when I was at Acer Objects just down the road a bit on 7A one day with Patty and Courtney, it became very clear that the shop needed this piece of décor. Patty and Courtney saw it first. They came to me with childish delight (I swear almost tugging my sleeve), “Can we get it? Can we get it? We have to get it!”

unnamed-6We got it. It hangs in our restroom. Technically the chandelier is made of hanging Dawn dolls, but who cares? As you can see, it takes a great picture.  One day I caught a group of Japanese tourists with their cameras pointed up at it.  True story.

Fast-forward a week or two later four years ago and we had opened the shop. In one of those very first days, Jan, the owner of Acer Objects, walked in. She was holding a glass bowl full of naked Barbies. It was like when someone walks in with a big vase of flowers, except this was a big bowl of Barbies. Jan has this southern accent that just doesn’t come through in written-down words, but I like to think I can channel it if I’m actually telling this story. She said, “Oh Joy (drawl), I thought this would be just perfect for the shop.”

If you know Jan or knew Acer Objects, you know that she has uniquely impeccable taste. Acer was full of her personal collection of objects that she had decided to sell, like one-of-a-kind Barbie chandeliers.

The glorious gift of the bowlful of naked Barbies graced the shop for a couple of years. Sometimes it sat on the coffee table, sometimes it nestled in between merchandise, and sometimes it stood tall right on the counter at check out. That’s where a woman named Laurianne saw it and asked like so many others have, “What’s up with the Barbies?”

Laurianne didn’t wait for my answer and kept talking. “These Barbies 11214075_987728741247565_5324970895890747496_n are naked!” she said kind of shockingly. “They need some clothes… I’m going to make them some clothes!” People say a lot of things they don’t follow through on, but not Laurianne. She showed up about 10 days later with homemade outfits for each and every Barbie. She had the exact amount of outfits and every one fit perfectly, not just in size and shape, but also in personality.

Our bowlful is an assortment of various Barbies from different years. Jan had placed them all together in perfect harmony. Laurianne dressed them all in appropriate undergarments. There was one purple knit bandeau and panty that I saw her put on one. She said, “Look, this outfit matches her lipstick.”

The Barbies are as much of the JOY history as anything else. They’ve come in handy when little girls and boys come in and need something to play with. At this point, some little girls even want come in with their Mommy just to see the Barbies.

The Barbies bring out some great Barbie stories. Never gets old to hear them from you. Quite of few of you have told us about your brothers…the ones who cut the hair on your Barbie dolls. There’s one of those hack-jobs in the bowl. (Maybe Jan had a brother too.) One customer’s brother made a “Barbie Crushing Machine” as his science fair project. I hope he got an “A.” (The brat!) There was the woman who must have grown up rich or been very well behaved because she told us about how she had everything…Barbie camper, Barbie house, Barbie cars, Barbie this, Barbie that. Barbie Barbie Barbie. (Ok, maybe I was a little bit jealous)

What’s up with the Barbies? Anything you remember or want it to be. There’s a whole community of stories in that bowl. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever known.

Timeless. Iconic. You are too.

Much love,