Helena business gains new attraction

Published 10:01 am Friday, August 14, 2009

When customers visit Loading Dock South in Helena, some of them spy a familiar face when they come through the entrance.

If they’re seeing her there for the first time, some stop and stare, trying to place her in their memories.

At that point, Dell Waid might say, “That’s Gladys from the Mole Hole at the Galleria.” Usually, her customers say, “Oh, yes! I know who that is!”

Gladys, a 5-foot-tall stuffed doll of an older, yet still stylish, lady, lived with the owner of the Mole Hole for about 30 years. The Mole Hole was a business at the Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham that closed years ago.

About six months ago, Dell and Jerry went to a warehouse sale in Riverside, and there was Gladys, standing in a corner. Her owner was moving away to start a new life.

Dell recognized her immediately, and talked her owner into letting Gladys become a part of the Waids’ life.

Dell’s husband, Jerry, said some people greet Gladys like an old friend.

“We have customers come in and say, ‘Oh, Gladys, there you are,’” he said.

Gladys adds some fun to the Loading Dock, Dell said.

“We just like fun things that customers enjoy. We like our store to be a fun place,” she said. “We try to be an enjoyable place, with things you don’t expect.”

Both Dell and Jerry vehemently said Gladys is not for sale.

“Well, we hold on to things,” Jerry said. “I’ve been holding on to (Dell) for about 47 years.”

He said Gladys has done her part in getting people to talk about Loading Dock.

“We have not promoted her. Our most successful advertisement has been word of mouth,” he said. “People tell their friends, ‘Hey, I found where Gladys was.’”

The Waids’ daughter and son-in-law, Laura Lynn and Mark Love, also work at Loading Dock South.

Laura Lynn said Gladys is part of the store’s charm.

“She catches people off guard when they walk in,” she said.

Dell said she wonders most about what children think of Gladys.

“We have kids that come in and stand and look at her, and look at her, and then they walk off,” Dell said, laughing. “I just wonder what they’re thinking.”