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New store offers rare, collectible dolls

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A new store on Scott Street promises its customers a special experience—a chance to see rare dolls from all over the world and to buy a gift to last a lifetime.

Alana Cawston, owner of “Just Imagine,” hopes to share her love of dolls by bringing special pieces to her store here.

“I’m very excited about this. We’re bringing some unique items into the community,” Cawston said. “There are products that are usually only available in larger centres.”

After 20 years of collecting dolls, Cawston found she had enough to open her own store and along with her husband, Blake, opened “Just Imagine” two weeks ago.

When many people think of dolls, they think of Barbie or Raggedy Ann, or other toys they had as children. The dolls at “Just Imagine” are of a different breed altogether.

“They’re actually art,” Cawston said.

These dolls can range in height from a few inches to more than two feet. Some have porcelain faces, others vinyl, but they are all made as life-like as possible.

“They’re beautiful. You could almost talk to them, they look so real,” she enthused.

Cawston chooses her dolls from artists around the world. “I’ve met many of the artists myself,” she noted. “All the artists I deal with have won many awards.”

She explained dolls such as these are not only beautiful pieces of art, they are a sound investment.

The resale value on many of the dolls can be two-three times what they originally cost, particularly if the doll is rare or if it comes with a signed certificate of authenticity.

Cawston said all her dolls come with certificates, including some signed ones, which are very valuable to collectors.

“There are different things you look for when you do collect. But the first rule is buy what you like, because it’s something to treasure forever,” she advised.

Cawston cited the “Precious Moments” collection, made entirely of porcelain. “They’re a wonderful collection item for someone who’s just starting out,” she said.

Some of the dolls come with elaborate dresses, decorated with ribbons, lace, and gems.

Cawston said some artists actually use clothing designers to dress their dolls. “One of the costume designers also designed Madonna’s wedding dress,” she remarked.

Different artists have different strengths, Cawston explained. “Philip Heath, he’s a master of capturing a child’s heart and soul.”

Other doll artists Cawston carries include Heidi Plusczok, Sigal Sela, Mundia, Jan McLean, and Annette Himstedt.

Cawston also said she’s in the process of having a Web site designed to attract buyers from around the world. “Other dolls will be available on the Web site that are not in the store,” she added.

The site (www.just-imagine-dolls.com) should be up and running in the next few weeks. “I’m hoping for the support of the community. Hopefully I’m here to stay,” she concluded.

“Just Imagine” is located at 220 Scott St. Its hours of operation are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., though Cawston hopes to expand those hours closer to Christmas.

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