American Girl Continues Canadian Invasion

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Wisconsin-based doll retailer American Girl will open more Canadian boutiques, including an Ottawa location on October 11 within Chapters on Rideau Street. Though substantially smaller than its US locations, American Girl will make a big Canadian impact by opening as many as 15 locations by the end of next year. 

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 are expensive, retailing at $125 for larger ones and $90 for its ‘Bitty Baby’ line, marketed to younger children. Doll clothing, books and movies are also available, as well as an in-store doll hair salon. Doll hairstyling costs between $5 and $25, while doll ear piercing will set you back another $14. 

The 1,450 square foot Ottawa location marks the third in Canada for American Girl, following its recently opened Vancouver and Toronto stores. Its Vancouver shop-in-store is about 1,800 square feet, located on the second level of Downtown Vancouver’s Chapters bookstore. Its Toronto location is similarly sized, located within Yorkdale Shopping Centre‘s Indigo store.

Heather Reisman, Indigo Founder and CEO said, “Our customers in Toronto and Vancouver are incredibly supportive of our American Girl Specialty Boutiques. The response has been so fantastic that we’re delighted to now bring the magic of the American Girl experience to Chapters Rideau.

Retail analyst Robert Gibson told the Financial Post last year that he expects Indigo could open as many as 15 American Girl boutiques in Canada by the end of fiscal 2015. He estimates 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 million and $3 million in net income. 

American Girl’s US locations are substantially larger than in Canada, with its Chicago flagship spanning a whopping 52,300 square feet over three floors. Its Chicago store includes a photo studio and a restaurant which serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and has 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. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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