dollhouses made by Norm and his father, Norm Sr., as well as a gallery space dedicated his memory. Pontarelli remembered Norm as a generous man who freely offered his expertise to people new to the miniatures trade.
Pontarelli said the rising commercial rents have hurt Front Range hobby shops. The closing of Norm’s also means one less place for artisans who hand-craft miniature items to showcase their wares.
Jeannette Peterson owns Rocky Mountain Miniatures in Georgetown. She called Norm’s the region’s “granddaddy of them all” and gladly sent customers to Norm’s if she didn’t have what they were looking for.
“They are the cream of the crop,” she said. “It’s going to be a huge void when they close.”
The Nielsens’ contributions to the miniatures world will continue.
David will continue to produce custom dollhouse kits at his workshop on South Santa Fe Drive.
He and his girlfriend, Wendy Russell, plan to launch a website to sell kits and other items. He also has dozens of custom projects to work on.
“I still enjoy it,” he said. “A lot of our longtime customers are saddened by (our) closing. They are friends. We love seeing them.”
David uses some modern tools — a recently purchased laser cut- ter makes cutting trim a breeze compared with a jigsaw — but most of the work is done the same way his dad did it 40 years ago: by hand with painstaking commitment to detail.
When Denver model train mega-store Caboose Hobbies closed this year, David said he had a gut feeling Norm’s would follow. (Caboose has since announced it will reopen under new ownership.) Today’s kids don’t take up hobbies such as dollhouse building, he said.
Constructing a dollhouse takes about 130 hours, he said, and building and decorating a house can get expensive. Kits for single-room houses can cost $95, with detailed furnishings priced just as much.
Norm’s will limit new merchandise to special orders in its remaining days. Norma hopes people will buy the many completed houses, kits and furnishings. She’s not taking any of it home.
When the doors close, Norma says she’ll spend her days tending the garden at the Centennial-area home that she, Norm and their four kids moved into in 1968. There’ll be no farewell party. “Emotionally, I don’t think I could deal with that,” Norma said. “We’re just gonna fade away.”
Norma Nielsen waits on Joshua Hayes at Norm’s Dollhouse. She hopes people will buy the many completed houses, kits and furnishings before the store’s closure. Seth McConnell, The Denver Post