Nesting Dolls Brings Color and Culture to Wappingers Falls
A teacher-turned-shopkeeper spreads her Russian heritage in the Hudson Valley.
Adobe Stock / Kadmy
Nesting Dolls’ bright magenta exterior is a common reference point for directions in the Hudson Valley. Yet what most people don’t know is that the building houses hundreds of nesting dolls with different shapes and designs. Owner Halina Danchenko insists every doll has a story and every customer can find one to which he or she relates.
Nesting Dolls came to fruition twenty years ago after Danchenko retired from her career as a Russian language teacher in the Arlington school district. The storefront, formerly a basket-and-wicker store owned by her husband Frank Bishop, did not yet have its signature color or variety of dolls, but Danchenko had a vision. With her Russian upbringing and fascination with the artistry of crafting nesting dolls, she saw the store as an opportunity to share her culture.
“I transitioned from teaching the Russian language to teaching people about the history and the making of Russian nesting dolls,” says Danchenko. “There’s a complicated and beautiful process behind it that many people are interested in.”
With a broad range of nesting dolls (all made in Russia or Ukraine), Danchenko’s most popular are the Semionov style that come with a book and the modern, cartoon-themed dolls (think Minions). There is also a section of the store dedicated to items from continents like Asia and Africa. Many customers see her store as a museum — she even received an “entrance fee” from a girl visiting her shop once.
Danchenko may be retired from teaching in schools, but when you enter Nesting Dolls, you are bound to learn something new.
Rte 9D & New Hamburg Rd, Hughsonville