When she was a child Pauline Millard never had a dolls’ house, which could explain why now, as a retired regional manager, she has three.
Then again, as she says, her dolls’ houses are not the kind you would want children to get their hands on. They are not playthings but collectors’ items.
In her living room she has three 6ft by 7ft homes, each costing unfurnished £2,000, at different stages of being built and decorated.
Pauline painstakingly paints the outsides and then contemplates their interior designs.
Not that she is spoiled for choice – she has a shop full of miniatures with which to furnish them.
The store adjoins her house and there is a sign at the side of the road indicating the way to this unusual emporium.
“Dolls’ houses and miniatures are my passion and hobby,” said Pauline.
It was while she was visiting Dolly Mix in Helmsley that she discovered the owner wanted to sell up – so she bought the business and moved lock, stock and miniature barrel to her premises in Weaverthorpe.
“This was my golden opportunity to start my own business and indulge my hobby,” said Pauline, who since setting up the business in 2012 has bought out shops in Goole and Birmingham.
The shop is in what was her son’s flat, attached to the pretty property in the village near Scarborough.
Son Kevin is travelling the world on a pushbike and has been away for four years.
Pauline had no intention of going into business – she moved to Weaverthorpe after years on the road with Carpetright with the intention of winding down.
It was her partner of 15 years Denis who suggested the granny flat would make an ideal miniatures’ shop.
And she and her customers have all the time in the world to look around and make a purchase.
In the summer time she sets out tables and chairs on her front lawn and serves teas, coffees and scones and provides magazines for visitors to read.
There is no pressure to buy – the emphasis is on just taking their time and seeing what is on offer to make their own dolls’ houses bespoke.
“We are here to recommend ideas for customers’ projects or to have a friendly chat,” said Pauline.
She is cheerful and enthusiastic, telling her story – which includes a two-year battle back to health after a serious car accident on ther A64 – with wit and warmth.
Her customers spend hours browsing – and no wonder. Not only are they made to feel at home but on every wall is a cabinet and each cabinet is packed full of furniture and other household items, and there are wallpaper and flooring books available.
There are pubs, a baker’s, cottages and mansions on view, as well as furniture and dolls which would populate them.
One display looks like the cast of Downton Abbey. In another there is a police officer and a vicar being served tea.
Guitars, mandolins, snooker tables, bottles of Teachers Scotch, Beefeater gin, bacon and eggs, sausages, jams, bathroom suites, kitchen ranges, Edwardiana, Victoriana, mahogany, pine, a teenager’s bedroom, table tennis equipment, the Mona Lisa and a picture of Marilyn Monroe can all be seen.
For the garden there are sheds, pagodas and ponds, and tools.
There are planes and cars and rare and delicate items – and a children’s section, the smallest in the shop.
The majority of Pauline’s customers are adults, men and women.
There is a Christmas cabinet – with trimmings, trees, stockings and snowmen – and a cabinet full of pots and pans, cups and saucers, washing machines and sinks.
There’s farmhouse “shabby-chic” or chintz and cheerful or manor house elegance.
“Whatever you can buy for your home you can buy in miniature for your dolls’ houses,” said Pauline.
“We cater for everyone, whether they are a serious dolls’ house collector or first time buyer,” she said.
She sells a lot to customers in Australia and America via the internet.
During the summer months, April to September, there are open days for members of dolls’ houses/miniature groups on Saturdays or Sundays.
The shop is also open seven days a week from 3pm to 6pm and on other occasions by appointment. Pauline can be reached on 07811 115020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org