Barbie Meets American Girl in Buenos Aires
her 50th year in 2009, Barbie at long last is getting into retail.
A six-story, 37,000 square feet palace opened in Shanghai in March
of this year to represent her first flagship, but a smaller (7,000
square feet) – and possibly more expandable – version has quietly
been in operation since late 2007 in Buenos Aires.
Barbie’s Tea House, the Argentine store is really an American Girl
store (also owned by Mattel) done Barbie-style. That means lots of pink on the exterior
and interior of the store and across product. Associates wear pink
t-shirts with “I’m a Barbie Girl” embossed on the back. A pink
Volkswagen Bug with the Barbie logo splayed on its side sat out
front. (This reporter recently visited the Buenos Aires store.)
front of the narrow store is dedicated to product, including an
ample selection of T-shirts, skirts, pants and handbags – most
in shades of pink – as well as dolls and other trinkets such as
hair and beauty care, watches, two-way radios, and even golf sets
under the Barbie theme.
the center is a Barbie Beauty Center, where girls can get their nails and
hair done under styles such as the Butterfly, Princess, or Fashion
Fever. After the salon, a Barbie tea counter serves up cupcakes,
pies and beverages for both young girls as well as moms and grand
many, however, the big draw is Casa de Barbie, a fantasy-land behind
closed doors in the rear where parties are held. The room includes
toys and dolls, costumes, make up and jewelry, and a small catwalk
for girls to parade under disco lights. But the store is also
designed to appeal to older, former Barbie owners. Tidbits of Barbie
history are written on the walls.
Barbie Store is a place where little girls feel big and mothers
return to their childhood,” Tito Loizeau, one of the owners of
the store, told the Telegraph. The former marketing executive
came up with and collaborated with Mattel on the idea. The store
is a licensed location.
Argentine’s standards, prices at the store are high. A Butterfly
hairstyle – including fairly tale makeup – costs 120 pesos (around
$30). Admission to Casa de Barbie costs 25 pesos ($7.00) for an
individual visit and much more to throw a full party.
opulent Shanghai store, which Mattel spent $30 million to construct,
also includes facials, customized doll creations, and $10,000 adult-sized
wedding dresses. At night the store’s two restaurants become trendy
bars complete with DJ’s, pink martinis and karaoke. The store operated
by Mattel is expected to help drive branding and expansion in China.
surprisingly, the ultra-thin Barbie and both stores openings have
drawn controversy. Even in Argentina, known for its obsession with
plastic surgery, about 30 Barbie dolls were burned in the provincial
capital La Plata this past March 9th, Barbie’s official birthday.
Question: What would you think of Mattel opening a Barbie-themed
store in the U.S.? Of the services and products mentioned, which do you
think would be most appealing in the States? Would you expect U.S. stores
to be profitable or more valuable for branding objectives?
Aires: Barbie store a destination – Associated
first Barbie store opens in Buenos Aires – Telegragh
- At 50
years old, Barbie gets tattoos — and a megastore in China – Los
- The world’s
first Barbie store comes to the land of living dolls – The