Trolls everywhere!

What happens when you receive a troll doll at the impressionable young age of 5? If you’re Sherry Grooms, you end up with a museum. 

“One troll becomes a row of trolls on a shelf, then a whole room,” Grooms explains. Her collection has since grown to more than 9,000 (and counting), which has earned Grooms a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest troll doll collection. The Troll Hole in Alliance showcases that bounty, as well as Grooms’ passion for these wild-hairdo dolls sometimes described as “just so ugly — or scary — they’re cute.”

For Grooms, part of the trolls’ allure is in their life lessons. “The world works on cooperation; trolls cooperate,” she says, opening the door that leads to the first of the museum’s 14 rooms. “Trolls live by the Golden Rule, and they have a splinter in their eye so they only see goodness.” With Grooms as a guide, the tour is a trip through legends, folklore, and pop culture, all mixed together with childhood nostalgia. This is collecting on steroids, with healthy doses of creativity and passion.

The Troll Hole

The Troll Hole in Alliance showcases more than 9,000 troll dolls.

Trolls or similar creatures can be found in mythology and folk tales from around the world.
Sherry Grooms’ world-record collection of trolls includes plenty of treasures besides the wild-haired toys of Trolls movie fame.

One room has the Troll Bowl, a dollhouse version of a football stadium, where trolls are dressed as football players and fans sport NFL attire. There’s also the Rock ’n’ Troll Hall of Fame featuring troll versions of Rod Stewart, Justin Timberlake, KISS, and more. 

Troll collecting has made Grooms an expert on troll doll history. The original is from Denmark, where Thomas Dam carved wooden dolls for his daughter, inspired by trolls of Scandinavian folklore. Dam’s designs became mass-produced in the U.S. in the 1960s. 

In the rooms dedicated to troll legends and folklore, Scandinavian and Smoky Mountain trolls are in the whimsy mix. Here, children’s picture books highlight the literary traditions of these magical, mythical creatures. There’s also the Billy Goats Gruff bridge that leads to trolls’ golden treasures. Rooms designed like a troll’s abode cleverly highlight their interests. “Trolls like the powers of earth elements. They like to drink, dance, and sing. Life is meant to be enjoyed,”     says Grooms.

Grooms’ troll collection also includes more than 40,000 pieces of troll memorabilia, most produced in the 1960s, early ’70s, and the ’90s, in the height of troll popularity. These rooms are pop-culture powerhouses. The girls’ room, with hues of every shade of pink, showcases items from roller skates and bedspreads to lip gloss and more.

The most pop-culture troll tribute, though, goes to Dreamworks’ movie Trolls. When Trolls hit the theaters in 2016, an avalanche of troll goods hit the market. Trolls movie memorabilia has a room to itself in the museum.

During Christmas, the Troll Hole sparkles with twinkling lights and themed trees, invoking the question, “Is Santa really a troll?” Grooms certainly builds that case in each of 13 rooms, where one of the 13 troll Yule lads of Iceland is hidden. The Yule lad scavenger hunt ends with the unveiling of their mother, Gryla, the original keeper of the naughty and nice list. Christmas trolls are also showcased year-round with new ones added.

“I’m trying to get out of my hoarding,” says Grooms, but it’s hard to resist a find. Recently, she drove to St. Louis to pick up boxes of trolls someone had rescued from a dumpster. “It’s pretty cool because there were some custom trolls. Now I have over 240 more,” she says, explaining that since each is unique from the others, they can be added to the Guinness World Record collection. 

She also gets random packages in the mail, like one small box with trolls and troll clothes sent by a woman in her 80s who wanted them to go to a good home. As she eyes up stacks of unopened boxes in the sorting room, it’s clear the current 9,000 number is on its way up. 

The Troll Hole, 228 E. Main St., Alliance, OH 44601. Open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Thursday–Sunday. The museum’s gift shop has trolls for sale. Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea are available at the Grumpy Troll Coffee café. 330-596-1157,