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Doll hospital sees spike during pandemic

by | Sep 15, 2021 | Featured

Janice McIntyre of Jenny Baby's Doll Hospital

Janice McIntyre of Jenny Baby’s Doll Hospital sits among her collection of dolls.
PHOTO/MICHELLE SANFORD

Certainly it has been trying times for small businesses since the pandemic hit early last year. According to some of the latest statistics, the number of small businesses open in Massachusetts has decreased by 37 percent as a result of COVID-19. However, one small business in Hopkinton managed to stay afloat thanks to the fact so many people have been home finding projects to do.

“So many have been home, digging through their closets, basements, and attics and have found old dolls in need of repair or restoration, and I started getting calls,” explained Janice McIntyre, owner of Jenny Baby’s Doll Hospital (jennybabysdollhospital.com), which is located at the corner of B Street and Cedar Street (across from the Post Office).

Since 2005, McIntyre has been bringing new life to antique dolls through her restoration techniques, which includes repairing everything from a figurine’s face and hair to a limb and clothing.

The Hopkinton resident says she’s always loved anything antique and took a restoration seminar in Virginia to become certified in the industry. The vintage dolls she’s worked on through the years have included those from the 1800s up to the 1960s.

McIntyre considers herself very lucky to have continued working through the pandemic. Most of the time, she explained, communication was done via email or phone call. Clients were able to drop off and pick up their dolls safely and without contact at her home, where she works.

“Or if they came inside, we could socially distance and wear masks,” she said. “Some people have mailed me their dolls, too.”

People from as far as Canada and California have mailed her their dolls to be restored or repaired.

McIntyre herself is an avid doll collector and showcases her collection in the entryway of her home, which she enjoys showing to her clients, when the opportunity presents itself.

Up until the pandemic hit, she exhibited her collection as part of a presentation called “The World of Dolls,” in which she discussed the history of dolls with a display of more than 45 antique dolls; some more than 200 years old.

Attendees would learn about the materials used throughout time to create different styled dolls, their clothing and hair styles throughout the centuries, and how to identify a doll and how to look for markings.

Over the years, McIntyre has taken her presentation to senior centers, libraries, nursing homes and other local organizations. While the pandemic has put that on hold for some time, she hopes to be able to bring it back to organizations as soon as permissible. She’d also love to be able to bring a historical doll museum to venues around town for display. “Set it up at places like the library, perhaps,” she said.

McIntyre has also opened up her business to stuffed animal repairs and restoration. She said she’s received notes from kids who are thrilled to have their vintage doll restored or stuffed gorilla back in one piece and looking like new.

“When they see them, they’re so happy. It’s so fun and rewarding to bring them back to life,” said McIntyre.

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