Doll retailer American Girl will eventually open between 10 and 15 Canadian locations, according to Indigo CEO Heather Reisman. American Girl’s first two Canadian locations opened last weekend in Toronto and Vancouver, within Chapters/Indigo stores. American Girl’s Canadian popularity is unquestionable: an estimated 4,000 girls attended its Yorkdale Shopping Centre grand opening last weekend, while about 1,500 attended its new Downtown Vancouver shop.
Indigo owns the rights to American Girl in Canada. The Financial Post’s Hollie Shaw recently interviewed Ms. Reisman and when asked how many more American Girl stores would open in Canada, Ms. Reisman replied:
“[American Girl] is not something we will put in every store, but we definitely plan to put it in every province and then we will have to figure out by province what we can absorb. We will do it carefully. I think we could see 10 to 15 in total.”
Started 25 years ago as a line of dolls and books depicting pre-teen girls in historical times, American Girl is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel. Contemporary dolls have since been added. Its dolls retail at $125 for its standard 18 inch (45 centimetre) models and $90 for its ‘Bitty Baby’ line, marketed to younger children. Doll clothing, children’s apparel, books and movies are also available, as well as an in-store doll hair salon. Costs quickly escalate beyond the price of the doll itself: doll hairstyling costs between $5 and $25 (ponytails are $20), doll ear piercing costs $14, a horse costs $88, snow shoes are $34, and a wheelchair costs $45.
Retail analyst Robert Gibson got it right when he told the Financial Post last year that he expects Indigo to open as many as 15 American Girl boutiques in Canada by the end of fiscal 2015. He estimated that Chapers/Indigo could add $20-30-million in incremental revenue in fiscal 2016 if it replaces low-volume book space with American Girl shops, providing between $2 and $3 million in net income.
American Girl’s US locations are substantially larger than in Canada, with its Chicago flagship spanning 52,300 square feet over three floors. Its Chicago store includes a photo studio and a restaurant serving brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, with the potential to host private parties. American Girl flagships are also in New York City and Los Angeles, and its other locations bring its total US store count to 16.