Housework's never done

DOLLS houses are not just for little girls. Sandra Emery had to wait until she was 54 before she owned her first. Now she's got a shop full of them.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 10:15 am
Updated Friday, 14th September 2007, 3:58 pm

You might have caught her on TV’s Hard Sell today when two contestants sold her three items of dolls house furniture.

Sandra, proprietor of Sandora’s Box on Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, thinks she might have been a wee bit generous, because one item was definitely repro.

“But it was good publicity,” she said.

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The green-fronted shop is crammed with dolls houses. You can spend from 20 upwards and if you’re not into houses, there’s always My First Castle.

Pandora’s Box will be six years old on Friday, when there will be balloons outside and booze inside.

It all started when mother- of-five Sandra wanted a dolls house for a granddaughter.

But you can’t do for one child what you don’t do for another and it would have been expensive.

Instead, a good friend bought Sandra a house and called it Sandora’s Box.

“When she died she left me some money and I used it to open the shop,” she says.

If you’re spending 200 or more on a dolls house you’re not going to blink at forking out 30 or so to do up a room, and she has the furniture, carpets and even wallpaper.

Top of the range houses - and you can buy pubs and shops - come with holes drilled for electric lighting.

Then there are the dolls .

“This is a wholesome shop but you can get, um, shall we say, vicars and tarts.”

Talking of vicars, one man came in for a set of scanty undies thrown over a screen, for his brother, a vicar with a sense of humour.

Handywoman Sandra, aged 62, makes many of the props, from workbenches sold to America to miniature dishes full of food.

She’s set a garden table outside the George the Third pub with plates of ham and asparagus and, incongruously, a wine waiter. Two boys, one a hoodie, walk past with fish and chips. “I like a bit of humour.” People like to be accurate. When a chap made a model of the African Queen to puff across Millhouses Park lake she was called to provide Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

“I had to watch the film again to get the colour of his hat.”

Some people buy fixtures and fittings. Some houses have basements for the servants.

“One person wanted a coffin. There had been a death at the house. And somebody else wanted a doctor with his bag because he was visiting the pregnant lady upstairs.”

No room for a dolls house? You can have one room, like her ’60s one, Austin Powers jiving on swirly carpet.

Back home she’s got six houses on the go but none she owns: “I might keep the Victorian one when I retire but I’m not going to retire, am I?” she says.

n Pandora’s Box: 0114 258 9386. Visit www.sandorasbox.com