Sunday, July 29, 2012

American Chinese Girl

Our granddaughter Leya has a birthday coming up next month, and so - as good grandparents will do - we asked her what she might like for her birthday. As she is now into the "American Girl" doll series, she said she would like to have this year's girl-of-the-year doll ("McKenna"), and several specific outfits for her (she showed us the right ones in the catalog, so we wouldn't make any mistakes).

And so it was that yesterday Agnes and I made the trek to the Tyson's Corner shopping center on the other side of town, and it's two-level, ultra-fancy American Girl store.

We had already bought matching American Girl "bitty baby" dolls for Leya and Elise last year, and our other granddaughter Marcy went through her American Girl doll phase, so we were pretty much aware of what to expect, but it's still an ... interesting ... experience to see the marketing wizardry and psychology that goes into the whole American Girl phenomenon. Oh, and there's the economics lesson, too. Here are a few candid observations about the American Girl doll thing:

1. We spent about 45 minutes in the store, during which time I found not a single item ... not one ... that was not made in China. There's a depressing lesson in economics to be found here.

2. We spent several hours bummelling around the mall, during which time we saw an amazing number of young girls carrying one ... and sometimes two ... American Girl dolls. As the larger dolls themselves cost an average of about $105, and the "bitty babies" about $50 (going up to $120 for the full "starter kit"), this represents a hefty investment for parents*.

3. The average outfit or "accessory package" for an American Girl doll costs between $18 and $35, with matching outfits available for the actual girl at commensurate prices. Depending on where you shop, you can get clothing for a real girl for prices like those.

4. The store includes a beauty salon for the dolls, as well as an actual doll hospital, which offers such treatments as "reattachment of head**," "new body (torso and limbs)***," and a complimentary "wellness exam."


There was a time when dolls were a good deal simpler. At one time, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy were the dolls everyone wanted ...

And things started going downhill with the advent of Barbie ... and Ken ... and the whole explosion of friends, outfits, accessories, cars, houses, movies, and all the other stuff that came with them ...

At one time, Raggedy Ann and Andy and Barbie and Ken were probably made in the US, too.

But things are a lot different now, and the doll of the hour is the American Girl ... who is actually a Chinese Girl, but that's not important to the real girl who wants one. Just to the American Parent whose job making those dolls is now located in a suburb of some unpronounceable Chinese city.

But anyhow ...

Leya will get her doll (from her mother) and the outfits (from her grandparents) and she'll have a wonderful time. And, eventually, she will learn parenting skills that do not involve carrying the baby by one leg.

And the Chinese economy will continue to boom.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I was surprised to note that American Girl does not sell safes in which to store these valuable figures. But I'm sure that's coming eventually.

** This would be a useful service for Members of Congress, but would probably require an upcharge to cover the cost of extracting the head from the ass in the first place.

*** There are those of us who could use such a service ourselves. I'll take the early-20's torso with the six-pack abs, please.


Duckbutt said...

It's an unfortunate sign of the times -- the increased difficulty in finding goods in stores that were actually made in the U.S. And there's the worry over safety with regard to foods and pharmaceuticals imported frm abroad.

craziequeen said...

STUNNED....apparently you can have your doll's ears pierced...

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I especially like ***

I sat ditto to that Bill

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Havingdolls' ears pierced is too much realism. What next, navel jewelry?

I worry about our being so dependent on imports for manufactured goods.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

A few years ago there was a tattooed Barbie.

I think that we need to encourage both domestic and foreign corporations to build plants in the U.S. and hire local workers. Sometimes that might require offering of tax incentives or nonunion labor.

Mike said...

'cost an average of about $105'

They probably cost $.50 to make in China.