U.S. Trolls is located at 2305 Market Street in Wilmington, NC. It sells stuffed, hand-made troll dolls for children of all ages. The business was founded by Helena Kuuskoski, a talented and imaginative Finnish artist.
After World War II, Helena Kuuskoski lived with her family in Naantali, a southwestern town in Finland. Using her skills as an artist and sculptor, Helena began to create stuffed animals and troll dolls which she sold to local businesses. Helena called her trolls Fauni Trolls, named after the Greek God of the Forests. Helena, and her husband, Martti, made their first troll dolls in 1952 for their children.
By 1960, with their business flourishing, the Kuuskoski’s moved to Järvenpää, a town north of Finland’s coastal capital of Helsinki where they employed more than 200 employees. Located on a two-acre forest, which included a troll theme park, their business became the third largest tourist attraction in Finland. Unfortunately, Finnish tax laws changed and soon the Kuuskoski’s troll business declared bankruptcy.
Looking for new horizon’s, Helena and her family moved to Canada, then Buffalo, New York and finally in 1993 to Wilmington, NC where they set up shop in a charming two-story brick house on Market Street which Helena called, “U.S. Troll.”
The soft, cuddly Fauni trolls are made from fabric, felt, fur and leather and feature an assortment of hats, hairdos. Some even sport mustaches.
Major characters in the US Troll collection includes, Trumpetnose, a poet and leader of the trolls in Trolldom (he keeps his unfinished poems in his nose); his best friend and assistant, Murriboy; Moko Trolls, the flying messengers and border guardians; Honeylip, the smooth-talking inventor; Bugbear, a cheerful bear-like troll; Boxtroll, a box-shaped blue troll; and Little Busters, furry, child-like trolls. Lituska the Guardian Troll is a popular seller online.
The enemies of these good Trolls are the Mudhats who live just outside Trolldom. Sneaky is the leader of the Mudhats, whose gang includes Gooey, Icky, Noway, Stuck and Yucky.
In Finnish folklore, trolls are evil creatures. In fact, to get their children to behave, parents warned them to behave or the trolls would come and take them away. But Helena Kuuskoski believed that if there were mean trolls, then there had to be kind trolls, and so she created a collection of gentle creatures who only want to shower love and happiness by spreading Troll magic (an enchanted dust) that makes people smile. As Helena said, “Don’t worry, tomorrow will be better.”
In January 1970, Reader’s Digest magazine published an article by George Kent about the Kuuskoski family entitled, “The Magical World of Trolls: A modern fairy tale about some little fellows made of fur and sawdust and glue who delight the young-at-heart everywhere.”
Upon Helena’s death, US Trolls is now owned by her children, Minna and Johannes Kuuskoski who keep her mother’s legacy alive with hopes of one day opening a theme park In Wilmington, NC devoted to trolls and the family creations.
“Trolls in our world are good, all friendly and just want to bring a smile to people, and on a terrible day, when it is raining today, it may not rain tomorrow, and sun will shine and it will be better. It’s like a troll of positive thinking, you may say.” – Minna Kusskoski
Meanwhile, Minna continues to spread the good word about her trolls by hosting children’s storytimes on weekends and performing at libraries and regional storytelling festivals. For short biographies about the different trolls, visit the store’s website “Trollforest.com.”
NOTE: On July 7, 2014, Minna Kuuskoski age 61, of Wilmington passed away. A Memorial Service celebrating Minna’s life was held at 2:00 PM on July 19, 2014, at St. Andrew’s On-the-Sound Episcopal Church, 101 Arlie Road, Wilmington, NC 28403. Minna’s business (US TROLLS) on Market street is now closed. The Kuuskoski family still maintains a website, so check it for any further developments. It’s sad to see US TROLLS go.
U.S. Trolls (Closed)
2305 Market St.
Wilmington, NC 28401