Cherie and Stephanie Mahaffey share a lot of things in common.
Besides being twins, the 36-year-old sisters love reading and are both employed with the Terrebonne Parish Library System.
But, a place where they differ, comes in the form of plastic boxes containing Barbie dolls.
While Cherie and Stephanie's mother and aunt gave each of them Barbies as children, only Cherie developed an obsession for the Mattel dolls.
Stephanie said she played with the dolls as a child but quickly lost interest in them as an adolescent.
The opposite can be said of Cherie, who became a serious collector in her teen years.
“It started off innocently enough with me and my sister receiving a few of them from relatives for holidays and birthdays,” Cherie said with a chuckle. “I didn't really start collecting them in their original boxes until I was in my teens, and, yes, it was, and still is, very hard to not take them out of their boxes.”
Cherie said she believes she received her first Barbie on Christmas Day in 1980.
Through the years many have been clued in to her penchant for doll collecting, Cherie said.
“That's how the whole thing started with me being asked to show them at the library,” the Library System's youth services manager.
Cherie's Barbies were put on display for the first time in 2009.
In a Courier article the same year, children's department staff member Merita Theriot of Montegut talked about how much she enjoyed the display.
“When I first saw the collection, I had to laugh because there are several I remember from my younger days,” Theriot said.
While Mahaffey is partial to Barbies with dark hair, her favorite is California Dreamin' Midge.
Although Cherie understands collections such as hers are valuable, it isn't about the money.
“I have a sentimental attachment to them and have never really gone about finding out how much they are worth,” she said.
Her sister, Stephanie, said the running joke between them is whether or not Cherie will put her in the will as the person the Barbies would go to in the event that something happens to her.
“I've told her the first thing I'm going to do is put them on eBay,” laughs Stephanie, who serves as branch manager at the Bourg library. “Only recently has she tinkered with the idea of parting ways with a few of them, but then again there are some that mean too much to her to let go.”
As for now, Cherie said she has stopped collecting Barbies.
“I simply don't have any more room to store them,” she said. “If I had more room, I'd probably look into getting more of them.”
You can view her collection at an exhibit, Barbie Galore, through June at the Terrebonne Parish Main Library, 151 Library Drive, Houma.
One of the main reasons the library decided to place some of her Barbies back in cases was because of phone calls requesting them, Cherie said.
“We had a number of people that were asking where they were and wanting to see them so that's why we are dedicating an entire case to them,” she said.
And advice for future collectors: “Make sure that you have the room to store your collection so you can keep them in their original boxes because they are worth more in mint condition,” she said. “But most importantly, collect something you love.”
Staff Writer Thad Angelloz can be reached at 857-2207 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.