When you walk into USA Family Thrift, the first thing you’ll notice are Barbies.
Barbies for sale and Barbies on display. Barbies everywhere.
But what you see isn’t even half of the story.
Owner Jack Dyke has boxes on top of boxes of Barbies in the basement of the store, 4470 S. 108th St., and estimates there are 6,000 to 7,000 of the slender blondies packed away. That doesn’t include the couple thousand on display and the hundreds for sale in the store itself.
So, what’s the deal with the Barbies?
“About seven years ago, I was playing around and started (displaying) Barbies for Halloween, and my wife said you can’t do that, you’ll freak people out,” Dyke said. “She said if you want to do it, save up a bunch and display them (nice). Little girls will get a kick out of it.
“All of a sudden, someone told me it was going to Barbie’s 50th birthday, which was a few years ago, so we went a little crazy. I had the entire store done, and the entire outside done with Barbies.”
Dyke said he just started selling the dolls. They are on sale now: $2.49 each, three for $6 or five for $10. He said he often sees the popular donation item from its original year of 1959, largely because Milwaukee was a test market for the new toy.
“Mattel used to test market all of its toys here because Milwaukee was so conservative,” Dyke said. “They figured if they could sell it here, they could sell it anywhere. There are a lot of the originals around here.”
Dyke’s thrift store has been in Greenfield for nine years after spending 14 years in West Allis.