“We’re not just a doll company. It’s the whole education element that appeals to our customers. We call it the vitamins-and-chocolate-cake approach.” So says Wade Opland, vice president of retail for American Girl, which just opened its only store (all 8,500 square feet of it) in Colorado.
I am sure all the prepubescent girls “pointing, pleading and screaming” over dolls and accessories at the opening of the Park Meadows store used the educational angle to convince their parents that $95 for a doll, $14 for doll ear piercing, and $10 to $20 for custom doll hair styling were all important components to their understanding of “historical events and moral or social issues.” Consider the liner notes for Kit Kittredge, a doll themed around growing up during the Great Depression (quoted in the Denver Post, “Girls gaga at doll shop,” 27 March, 2010):
“Kit overhears terrible news just before Christmas — her family may lose their house. Even with the rent from the boarders, the Kittredges don’t have enough money to pay the bank.”
Or this, at the end of the article:
Avital Rotbart, 13, of Denver, left American Girl smiling Friday after buying a Sabbath bread, candle and tea set — $68 — for her Rebecca doll, themed as a girl from 1914 growing up in a Russian-Jewish immigrant family.
How very ironic, or sad: that would have been a Russian-Jewish family living in New York City’s Lower East Side, where I am sure no immigrant parents would ever have contemplated pampering a daughter with the 1914 equivalent of $68 for something as frivolous as doll accessories.
Last night, The Kid came home from babysitting with a $50 bill. Needless to say, no clue who Ulysses S. Grant was, which era, which war. Not surprising, really. So we finally told her it was the Civil War, and she said,”It was the Union against the communists!”
Maybe if I had bought her an American Girl doll . . . .