For This & That Gifts Owner, Annalee Collectibles Have Personal Appeal
This & That Gifts owner Nancy Cartolano started collecting Annalee dolls two decades ago shortly after she got married.
“Once I saw that first Christmas one, that was it,” Cartolano shared. “I started with the big Mr. and Mrs. Claus the first year. Then I got a snowman. Then I got a gingerbread man. Every year I’d add something.”
As she collected them, she set them out with her Christmas china on her buffet as part of her holiday decorating. But then she began expanding her collection. She now has charming little figures which represent Easter, Valentine’s Day and more.
“They remind me of the Who’s in Whoville or other Dr. Seuss characters,” Cartolano explained. “They have these little eyes and crooked smiles. They’re whimsical and sweet with their own personality,” she added.
Some of her new favorites are the Irish Mice and the Three Little Pigs and Big Bad Wolf collectibles, which she is carrying in her gift boutique in downtown Frankfort. Cartolano also brought in Annalee leprechauns for St. Patrick’s Day and ordered other seasonally-themed dolls when she visited the Annalee showroom in Atlanta at the recent International Gift and Home Furnishings Market trade show.
“It was so fun to see their whole collection all in one place,” Cartolano said. “And as collectibles go, I think they’re pretty reasonable. The company also sets the price. I can’t deviate from that.”
The Annalee dolls got their start over 75 years ago when Barabara Annalee Davis took up doll-making as a hobby as a young teen in New Hampshire. Two decades later after the chicken farm she and her husband owned failed, the couple decided to turn her former hobby into a fulltime business, according to the Annalee website. Barbara designed the dolls, while husband Chip became the company salesman (as well as parttime engineer…it was Chip who created the internal wire frame for their now famous “mobilitee” dolls).
From those humble beginnings, the company has grown up over the past seven decades but the dolls’ signature smiles have never faltered and remain true to Annalee’s vision: “If you smile, someone else has got to smile back.”
To experience a little of the Annalee magic for yourself, visit This & That Gifts at 21 S. White Street in Frankfort or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thisandthatgifts.