Final feature Oona

It all began in 2005 when a trained seamstress, Erica Perrot sewed a rag doll named “ Eglantine” for her daughter. Driven by the desire to make other dolls for other children, Erica decided to open a store named “Raplapla” a few years later in the Plateau Mont-Royal. Today, rag dolls and stuffed animals cover the walls of the small factory.

Since the pandemic, all the production is done on-site by a small team of seamstresses who sew mainly made-in-Quebec fabrics. They create different kinds of rag dolls or stuffed animals which are designed and imagined for the most part by Erica. Even if the “Monsieur Tsé-Tsé” remains the emblematic rag doll of the store, customers can also customize their dolls in any way they like, from the color of the eyes to the clothes. As Christmas approaches, the store Raplapla has started to make Christmas stockings, either in the shape of an elf or a dragon. They are all unique and made on-site. 

For several years, Raplapla has also specialized in toy repair, housing in its “hospital for people made of fabric” toys that need to be repaired, from the stuffed animal broken by accident to the one that has survived generations. Fun fact, there is even a hospital bed for patients to relax in. Annie Roy, the chief surgeon of the toys hospital is particularly fond of her job. She is fascinated by the history of the toys she repairs. She said  that “many adults or elderly people approach us with their toys for repair, and many are attached to them since they were present during a significant or difficult period of their lives”. Erica didn’t realize that the store would become famous for its toy repair service, while doll production makes up a majority of the work here.

However, today the main occupation is Christmas. As we pass the door of this store, we are surrounded by a Christmas atmosphere, the fireplace is roaring, and seamstresses are trying as fast as they can to finish the last orders of Christmas before the holidays. “We’re selling Christmas stockings like hotcakes,” said Marie-Hélène Pilon, one of the seamstresses as she inspected all the prepared fabrics she will need to stitch together to make the Christmas stockings today.

Raplapla is much more than just a toys store, it’s part of an eco-friendly logic as the store’s production is done in the store itself and most of the fabrics are made in Quebec. Also, through the concept of “hospital for people made of fabrics”, children can enjoy their toys longer and parents can avoid overconsumption.

Rag dolls and stuffed animals cover the walls of Raplapla store in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
An old sewing machine decorates Raplapla’s window in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/ Concordia
Jayneeva Killa and Marie-Hélène Pilon, two seamstresses from Raplapla store sew Christmas stockings in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
Marie-Hélène Pilon sews a fake fur « flame » on a dragon Christmas stocking in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. Each Christmas stocking is unique and its fabrics are mostly from Quebec. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
Marie-Hélène Pilon sews a dragon Christmas stocking in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
Marie-Hélène Pilon sews a Christmas stocking in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
Freshly sewn Christmas stockings are waiting to be sold at Raplapla store in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. This is the first year the store will be selling Christmas stockings. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
The fabrics of Raplapla used for the manufacture of toys are stored in the basement of the store in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. Most of the fabrics are made in Quebec. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
A hedgehog toy lies on a hospital bed waiting to be fixed at Raplapla store in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
Annie Roy, the seamstress responsible for toy repairs, fixes the ear of a stuffed rabbit in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
The seamstresses at Raplapla all work on different projects, from repairing toys to making Christmas stockings in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT/Concordia
A rag doll lies in the middle of the thread spools at Raplapla store in Montreal, Quebec on December 2, 2021. OONA BARRETT /Concordia