Tears of joy as Australian Doll Hospital restores childhood memories

Mon Aug 25, 2014 6:08am EDT
 
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Making customers cry may not be most shopkeeper's goal, but at Sydney's 101-year-old Doll Hospital workers take tears as a sign of a job well done.

In an age of mass-produced plastic dolls, few doll hospitals around the world have survived, the owners said.

"We're one of the last ones that does everything, when it comes to dolls, there's very few that are capable of that sort of work," said Geoff Chapman, 67 and "surgeon-in-chief" at the family-run business his father started more than a century ago.

Since then, the Doll Hospital has restored more than three million dolls, teddy bears, rocking horses and wheeled toys for Australian and New Zealand children.

"We've had clowns as big as a person, and a 12-foot (4m) crocodile - plush - not real," Chapman joked, noting that "the most common problem usually is the hair and the eyes".

One of the pleasures of working at the hospital is seeing customers' reactions when they collect their prized possession.

"It's both men and women, obviously more women are getting dolls and teddies repaired, but there's quite a few men attached to teddy bears too," Chapman said.

"We've had customers who've burst into tears" when they saw the treasured doll or teddy as good as new, he said.   Continued...

 
A young customer looks over the counter as a family member brings in a doll for repair at Sydney's Doll Hospital May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed