SPENCER – Bradley Justice has been a doll collector since he was a child and sees the value in a local museum’s efforts to preserve the history of the hobby.
Justice said the NC Museum of Dolls and Toys seemed like a natural beneficiary of her fundraising efforts.
“Why not support them and make a huge difference in what they do to Spencer?” Justice said.
Justice, a notable Barbie collector and dealer, has been fundraising for the museum for seven years and has an annual lecture held on some aspect of the classic American doll model.
“I’ve been a Barbie and doll collector since I was 11,” Justice said. “I’m passionate about research and history, so I decided to share this.”
Her first talk was about the enigmatic original creator of Barbie, Charlotte Johnson. Justice said the event was planned as a one-time event, but was so successful that another was planned, then another and so on until today.
In 2020, the event was supposed to be canceled, but Justice’s friend convinced him to hold it online instead.
“Instead of just having an event with 60 people in person, we did it for 170 people around the world and raised probably 10 times the amount of money we had,” Justice said. “People from all over the world, from as far away as Australia, donated to this little museum in Spencer and made a difference in a museum they might never visit.”
Last year’s event raised $16,000 for the museum, making a big difference for the nonprofit.
“We still have a way to raise money for the museum,” Justice said. “Last year we put the roof on the museum.”
This year’s conference has been dubbed “A Swell Roadtrip”.
Supporters are nicknamed “Swellies”, toying with Justice’s business, the Swell Doll Shop.
Justice tied the conference to 1966, a significant year of change for Barbie. Justice said part of the talk focused on a “dark age” for Mattel and its impact on the toys they were producing at the time.
Museum board chairman Robin Wyatt said the fundraiser combines three events over the week: a weeklong virtual event, the in-person event at the museum, and an event at a restaurant. from Durham on April 30.
The museum was a stop on the road trip. April 29 attendees received retro lunch boxes filled with mid-century snacks. There were also raffles at the event for collectables, including premium raffles for a one-of-a-kind 60s Barbie custom car and a custom doll furniture.