Brief: Ana Casas owns the Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital in Secaucus, New Jersey. She repairs dolls and teddy bears from all over the world, returning them to their former glory and helping preserve tangible memories for their owners.
Long: At the Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital, Ana Casas meticulously works on patients, taking extra care because she is working with the delicate subject of sentimental value. It can sometimes take months to fix one doll, but customers are always happy with the final product.
Ana is from Colombia, and moved to the United States 23 years ago with her husband Luis Casas. They moved to work in the famous New York Doll Hospital and decided to open their own shop in their town eight years ago.
Shortly after they moved into their shop, her husband began experiencing memory loss. He was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 55. He lives full-time in a nursing home and Ana visits him every day after work. She now runs the shop with her sister and her daughter.
The memory deterioration started slowly. He stopped being able to get dressed on his own and would get very frustrated by his inability to do basic tasks. His constant anger was very out of character for such a happy man, and that’s when she realized something was wrong.
It’s been very hard for Ana to run the shop without her husband. She’s very lonely without him and does not feel like she is going to get used to living life alone. He was more than her husband; he was her best friend.
She believes that there will always be a market for what she does because people always have sentimental attachment to their dolls and teddy bears and has no intention of closing the shop.
When we came here, mmm everybody told us- almost every body- oh you must be crazy how you can think that this is going to be in the United States?
Everybody buys things but they throw it away. They thought that here people don’t have sentimental value but my husband he was sure.
He says everywhere where I go, and there are children, there are dolls to have fixed.
I think this kind of work is very special. Of course because you work with the sentimental value.
Um behind every teddy bear or every doll there is a story always. Some sad, some happy. And I love – I love the work here. Oh my god. I hope I can do it for many years.
I do for my living fixing dolls and teddy bears and all kind of toys.
Oh well some of them they come in critical condition, very very bad. But we take care of them. Nobody dies here anyway.
Look at this, isn’t perfect I guess? It’s perfect right? She’s beautiful. She’s so beautiful. I take my time. It’s okay. It pays, it pays.
Well my husband is ehh is the the pioneer in in in this business.
He love the teddy bear, the dolls, all his job because he did this kind of job all his life. So he used to love it and to have this place it was a dream for him, a real dream.
Um but I’m sorry he got sick. He got dementia, Alzheimer, very young man. And now he’s in a nursery home.
Running the business without him, the teddy bear hospital, very hard. And I keep the hope inside of me that maybe tomorrow when I come back he’s going to be much better.
He has a teddy bear and he loves his teddy bear. The teddy bear belongs to my mom. And it spend a lot of time with him.
There is a connection, a very big connection about the the his work and the teddy bear that he has right now.
I’m going to die in this place. But I want to keep it open. That’s what my husband wanted always. I have to keep it going on.