LAKEFIELD, MINN. (KELO) – When Randine Crouch was young, she hated Barbies despite the fact that her mom started collecting the dolls for her at age 11. Now 40 years later, and Crouch’s collection has grown to over 1,000 dolls.
“My mom started collecting Barbie dolls for me and would store them in closets and when the closets got full, she would put them in a spare bedroom from the floor to the ceiling,” Crouch said. “After I graduated from college, I took them to my first apartment and displayed them in a spare bedroom from the floor to the ceiling.”
Crouch has since upgraded her apartment storage and now keeps most of her collection behind plexiglass shelves in her garage. The rest of her dolls are brought out and put on display throughout the garage during special occasions, like the Barbie movie’s release Friday, July 21.
Crouch’s oldest Barbies are an original Midge doll from 1963 and an original Allan doll from 1964.
She says her favorite doll is one she got from the National Barbie Convention in Los Angeles in 2006. The table host at the event gave her the doll which is inspired by Italian actress Sophia Loren. The doll was so important to Crouch that she carried it and all the accessories in her lap during the plane ride home as her personal item. It’s now the first doll you see when walking into her collection room.
“I love to share it with people,” she said. “We have people that will come to our shop and they’re just surprised there are Barbies in this type of shop.”
To Crouch, her collection is priceless, but she said her most expensive dolls would be the Audrey Hepburn “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” collector dolls. The two, she said, could be sold for $500-600 if they were for sale. However, none of the dolls in Crouch’s collection will ever be sold.
Finding dolls is no small feat. She will often go to auctions, estate sales or collector stores to add to her collection. Crouch said she looks for vintage, new and rare Barbies and won’t even bother with a Barbie that is not in the box.
Her collection includes dolls from the college cheerleader Barbie, motorcycle Barbie, holiday Barbie and Dolls of World collections, as well as celebrity and company brand dolls. Crouch’s next Barbies that she has her eyes on are the new Barbie movie dolls based on Margo Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
Crouch posts on her Facebook Page, Barbie Collector in Minnesota, about her dolls and any new Barbie doll updates from Mattel. She said her friends and family all know her as a Barbie collector and will often get her dolls as gifts.
Now, Crouch enjoys spending time with her granddaughters, Makynlee,11, and Aynslee, 2, and passing on the tradition of collecting. The girls own matching shirts with their grandma and call themselves “Future Barbie Collectors.”
“They will inherit all of them someday, absolutely,” Crouch said. “These two girls will have all the Barbies.”