UPDATE 11/11/2013 5:00 PM
A line of high end dolls that spread worldwide originated in Belpre many years ago, but the factory shut down.
Now the Lee and Lloyd Middleton Dolls are being sold at My Favorite Things on Front Street in Marietta.
People come in from all over the county to buy them.
This is quite the operation and has a history in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The Middleton Doll was just one doll until the couple divorced.
Now there are two different dolls, both sold at My Favorite Things.
Lee Middleton's dolls are made in China; however, Lloyd Middleton dolls are made in Marietta and you can't get them anywhere else.
Store owner and doll maker Asunta Damron says they are a wanted item this year and they are especially important to people from here.
What is so unique is the nursery set up where people can adopt a doll.
Damron says the customers range from parents buying for a newborn to a grandmother collecting the dolls.
"Dolls teach a lesson, dolls, if someone works with a small child, taking care of a doll they learn to take care of a baby," she says. "They learn to be gentle, they learn to be kind, they learn to be caring, they learn responsibility."
Damron has her doll workshop at the back of the store.
She works with a couple of other women to get all the pieces together
and she then makes the final product.
She says they are flying off the shelves.
When people come in they go through an adoption process.
She asks them if they will read to them and sing to them and it's a very valuable lesson at a young age.
A famous name in the doll business, known the nation over, is about to have a new production spot in downtown Marietta.
"Middleton dolls is such a name in this area and is sadly missed. And everyone has missed it from the local people to the tourist people and the tour buses and the people that come in on those," says Asunta Damron, owner of My Favorite Things. "So, we are filling a gap that was made with the loss of both of those retail ventures."
With a little outside help, dolls will be constructed and finished right inside My Favorite Things
"I'm going to be working with Janice Middleton. Janice will be pouring the vinyl and firing the dolls and I will be taking the pieces and bringing them over here. We will be inserting the eyes, doing the eyelashes, inserting the hair, doing the painting, doing the assembly," Damron says.
Shoppers will be able to see the assembly process as it works. Also, unlike other Middleton products, all the work will be American.
"People like to see things in process. They also like American made things. The Lee Middleton dolls are made in China. They were made in China when Lee Middleton had the store. And they will continue to be made in China," Damron says. "It's a matter of economics. And the dolls that are made here and the porcelain dolls will be beautiful. They will be made in Ohio, and they will be local, and they will be made in the United States of America."