â??We go from, â??Wow, these are really amazingâ??, to â??Wow, these are really creepyâ??,â?? Co-owner of Mint on Card, Jim Chan said.â??
Jim Chan and his wife Lindsey are the owners of Mint on Card in Traverse City. They sell ball jointed dolls. Theyâ??re not your typical Barbie and Ken fashion dolls.
Ball jointed dolls have strings and ball joints that allow their bodies and limbs to move much like ours.
â??You cannot mass produce them all of these have to be handmade,â?? Chan said. â??These dolls, you can change the eyes, change the wigs, so a lot of times they will try to pick out eyes and wigs and change them into different characters.â??
You can dress them up too. They sell a variety of clothes, shoes and doll accessories.
â??Some treat them like their friends, some treat them like their children, and they like to bring them around take photos of them, and make little scenes and stories,â?? Chan said.
According to Chan, collectors range in age from 14-year-olds to 60 or 70-year-olds.
Chan said people come to their store not to just buy dolls and accessories. They also bring their dolls for what collectors call â??meet upsâ??. They let their dolls meet and act out scenes with other characters.
But for collectors, this hobby comes with a big price tag.
Chan said the cheapest doll they sell is $80. Some dolls have such intricate detail Chan said they cost more than most. For instance, they have a set of mermaid dolls that have a lot of joints and fine details and as a set they cost more than $1,100.
"I would be surprised if there are more than 100,000 collectors in total in the United States,â?? Chan said.
These dolls arenâ??t anything new. Chan said they are popular in Asia and thatâ??s where most of them are made. However, he said that is not where they originated.
The design concept is actually not Japanese, itâ??s actually German,â?? Chan said. â??Theyâ??ve been around for at least 300 or 400 years, a long time ago in the middle age.â??
Chan said he believes they are the largest ball jointed doll shop in the world.
â??Most of the ball jointed doll shops in the world are located in China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong and a lot of the shops are no more than a 10 by 10 kiosk,â?? Chan said. â??By store square-footage we are the biggest ball jointed doll shop in the world.â??
Mint on Card is located at 511 E 8th St.