Karlene’s Dollhouses


Drive down historic Route 66 in downtown Tulsa, and as you reach the southwest end of downtown, you’ll see a smallish neon sign advertising the 11th Street Cleaners.

The sign is nice, and the business — which does all my dry cleaning — provides good service at reasonable prices. But the same could be said for any number of dry cleaners in town. That’s not why I take my trenchcoat to 11th Street Cleaners every time I spill chicken-fried steak on it.

In point of fact, the stains on my coat are thinly veiled excuses to go see the 11th Street Cleaners’ cute roommate, Karlene’s Dollhouses, which operates out of the same flat-roofed building a block or so west of the big, domed First Church of Christ, Scientist at 11th and Boulder.


A sign next to the cash register reads, “BE HAPPY — FOR EVERY MINUTE YOU ARE ANGRY YOU LOSE 60 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS,” and I can’t help but smile as I look around the store and remember the elaborate dollhouse my parents built for me when I was 4, and the countless hours Mom and I spent at the late, great Dobb’s variety store in Mt. Vernon, Ill., searching for tiny replicas of household items to keep the inhabitants of my dollhouse comfortable.


Sewing machine

Pipe organ

Karlene’s offers a wide assortment of creature comforts — many of them handmade, and many of them created by local artists — for your dolls. Inch-long beaded purses with intricate patterns; miniature cakes and veggie trays for tiny soirees; old-fashioned cookstoves; beautiful little lamps that really light up; and an assortment of minuscule hardware, including gorgeous little glass doorknobs and brass hinges, are available for purchase, along with dollhouse kits, fully assembled dollhouses, and porcelain dolls to inhabit the scaled-down homes.

Carpet samples


“You can build your dream house,” a sign next to a two-story Victorian mansion asserts, and my thoughts wander to an Earthship in New Mexico and the possibility of creating a miniature replica of same. I mention this to my husband, who says, “I was just thinking that.” I conjure up visions of a 1/100th scale Sunfrost refrigerator, tiny wind turbines to power it, and a miniature organic garden out back.

Potting table


Eat your heart out, Barbie.

Alas, my schedule is too tight to allow for such diversions, so I settle for a miniature flat of seedlings and a display of tiny seed packets to send to my sister, who swears that she and my mom are going to renovate my old dollhouse just as soon as they finish planting that faerie garden on Mom and Dad’s back 40.

The Tulsa World published a great article about Karlene’s a couple of years ago; you can read it here if you’re so inclined.

Value: A
Service: A
Convenience: A
Product quality: A+
Overall: A

~ by redforkhippie on February 4, 2007.

5 Responses to “Karlene’s Dollhouses”

  1. I’ve been to Tulsa at least 3 times. This place is definitely on the list for the next visit.

  2. is your store still in existance? if so what is the addres and hours of operation? is there a phone number?

  3. My children are really getting into the dollhouse miniatures and I cant find any retail stores around our area. Are you located at the old Dobbs Warehouse in Mt. Vernon Illinois. I remember going to Dobbs and it was full of lots and lots of stuff. Is this the same place with lots of craft supplies? If so, what are your hours of operation

  4. Linda: Karlene’s Dollhouses is located on 11th Street (a.k.a. Historic Route 66) in Tulsa, Okla., approximately 400 miles southwest of Mt. Vernon. Sadly, Dobb’s closed its doors for good a couple of years ago.


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