CLOS­ING

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - Joe Ru­bino: 303-954-2953, jru­bino@den­ver­post.com or @Ru­bi­noJC

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

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