Stark County is full of many attractions, some more well-known than others. Gary Brown brings our attention to the less-publicized places. This month: The Troll Hole Art Emporium.Almost 6,650 troll dolls “live” at The Troll Hole Art Emporium on Main Street in Alliance. The combination museum and art gallery also is the home of almost 19,000 pieces of troll memorabilia and troll-related art and clothing, said Sherry Groom, who owns the establishment with her husband, Jay Groom, and leads tours dressed as Sigrid the “Queen of Trolls.”
And, beyond the “I (Heart) Trolls” theme, The Troll Hole at 228 E. Main Street, along with the Grooms’ nearby warehouse building, also is the site of a folk art gallery, a gift shop, a clothing-as-art store and a coffee shop.
“The biggest compliment we get is when people complete the tour and say, ‘This is so much more than we ever expected or imagined,’ ” said Groom. “Typically, people think it’s just shelf after shelf of troll dolls. But, its more because we’ve tried to transform it in an artful and educational way. We’ve tried to set it up so it teaches people about trolls from when they originated in mythology to the way they are now in modern toys.”
Indeed, if visitors haven’t been to The Troll Hole since it was established in 2014, they’re in for a new experience. David McDowell, also of The Hub Art Factory in Canton’s Arts District, is the resident artist at The Troll Hole and has set about creating new exhibits and redesigning other displays.
McDowell carved and hid a multitude of trolls in an exhibit of mountains and forests, said Groom. Another display highlights characters of the Dreamworks film, “Trolls,” a movie that Groom gave a thumbs-up review.
“It was really well done, especially Justin Timberlake’s performance and the musical score,” Groom said, noting that the film has been a boost to recent business. “Everybody has been talking about ‘Trolls,’ and the tours have been picking up,” she said, explaining that visitors include school groups, home-schooled contingents, groups of developmentally disabled individuals and bus tours.
The Troll Hole also has “outreach” vehicles, said Groom. A Troll Mobile is a mini-museum that goes to such events as First Friday in Canton. A Troll Bus carries the troll theme elsewhere in the area. And, when it is completed as a community project—in affiliation with ArtsInStark—the pickup truck-turned-Troll Hunter Truck will be available, said Groom, to “hunt down trolls throughout northeast Ohio.”
In addition to the museum exhibits, Groom and her staff arranged thousands of troll dolls on shelves—enough now to challenge The Troll Hole’s own world record. A new and verified count of the little so-ugly-they’re-cute dolls, if approved by Guinness Book of World Records people, will more than double the previous Guinness record of about 3,000, which The Troll Hole Museum set in 2012.
Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, $6 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger. Call to book a group tour.
Although it’s true that you don’t have to love trolls to enjoy The Troll Hole—the Art Emporium Gift Shop and Moka Mocha Chocolate Cafe can keep you interested—most visitors have more than a passing affection for them.
“They like to go through the museum and say ‘I had this one’ or ‘I had that one,’ ” said Groom. “It strikes an emotional chord when they see dolls they once owned. They’ve probably since sold them, or given them away or thrown them away. So, it makes this more than just a museum.”