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Dollhouse Sale Helps Keep Costs Small : * Big on miniatures? The tiny dwellings and furniture at this San Gabriel store are being discounted at least 20% through Saturday.

March 18, 1994|GERI COOK

SAN GABRIEL — Several years ago, I wandered into The Doll House Lady in Clearman's Village in San Gabriel, and my life has never been the same. Miniatures can turn into a very pleasurable but sometimes expensive hobby, so whenever you hear of a sale at a dollhouse store, that's the time to start. It's been a great form of therapy for me, and for earthquake-frayed nerves, I recommend it heartily.

To start this hobby frugally, purchase a house in kit form and assemble it yourself. If you want to skip that and get on with the furnishings, the experts at The Doll House Lady will assemble it for you. Expect to pay from $75 to $90 for assembly, in addition to about $50 to $500 for the kit. (But you'll miss a lot of the fun and spend more money.)

Stores specializing in miniatures rarely have sales, but through Saturday, The Doll House Lady is offering everything for 20% off retail. Some items are up to 75% off.

A fine $500 Victorian house is reduced to $275, and another is $299 instead of the original $495. If you want to start on a much smaller scale, there are room boxes that you can make into anything--be it a nursery, patio or store--that are sale priced from $23.20 to $47.20.

Most dollhouses and furnishings are based on a scale of one inch to one foot, and most are traditional or Victorian in style. An upholstered wing chair can cost from $12 to $45. Deduct 20%, and you've got the sale price. For a child's house, there's a three-piece bedroom set, all lacy and frilly for $21.60, instead of $27. Wallpaper sheets that are usually $2.50 are 60 cents.

Amateur decorators can practice by redecorating rooms over and over again. Hang new wallpaper in an evening. Put siding on the entire house over the weekend. Plant flower boxes in an hour or two.

The Doll House Lady and other fine miniatures stores (Miniature Estates in Los Angeles and Petite Designs on the Westside) carry deep inventories of miniature furnishings.

The joy of discovering these is part of the fun, and you'll probably always remember the first piece you bought. Mine was a grandfather clock for around $75 that still works five years later. Yours may be the miniature big-screen working color TV set for $320 (retail $400) or a toaster that lights up for $14.40 instead of $18. My newest favorite piece is a minuscule pan of caramel apples, purchased for pennies.

Miniatures can be addictive and, unless you use some restraint, expensive. But once family and friends hear about your new hobby, wonderful pieces will start rolling in at gift-giving time. So start off with a sale, then spread the word.

Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life!.


What: The Doll House Lady.

Location: Clearman's Village, 8964 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel.

Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, till 4 p.m. Sundays.

Cards: MasterCard and Visa.

Call: (818) 793-7433.

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