Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.
Do you have a young girl in your life that likes dolls? If you do, you have likely already heard that America Girl is coming to Ottawa. Not to be confused with the CanCon-approved Maplelea Girls, American Girl dolls are the biggest thing to hit the doll scene since Cabbage Patch Kids. I’ve heard the excitement at stores in New York City rivals Black Friday madness.
So will Ottawans latch on the idea of dressing up like your doll, booking salon services for your mini-me, and otherwise taking society’s fascination with dolls to the next level? Only time will tell. The store opens on Saturday, October 11.
In this edition of SHOP TALK, OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne explores the culture surrounding American Girl — and gets some tips on getting her own 2-year-old into independent play — through a Q&A with Lesley Nightingale, VP IndigoKids and a spokesperson for American Girl.
What makes American Girl dolls different from other dolls?
The American Girl brand is about a commitment to empower and inspire. The name was derived from the brand’s flagship line of historical dolls introduced nearly 30 years ago; today the brand has expanded into numerous product lines that reflect and celebrate the interests, achievements, and activities of all girls. American Girl is a perfect fit with Indigo — we’ve sold their kid’s books for years, our relationship was built on storytelling, and we’re proud to be their exclusive retailer as we bring the much sought after brand to Canada. — Lesley Nightingale, VP IndigoKids
I understand the first American Girl dolls referenced historical periods. Can you envision creating a doll that represents some aspect of Canadian history?
While we are always exploring new products to add to our line, we do not currently have any plans to create Canadian-specific characters or accessories at this time.
— American Girl
Will the historical dolls be available at the Chapters Rideau store?
Yes, a curated assortment of dolls from the Beforever collection (historical dolls), will be available at the Chapters Rideau store.
– LN, VP IndigoKids
My daughter has Bitty Baby but she rarely plays with it. How can I encourage her to play with it? Do you think some kids are just not into dolls?
While it’s true that all girls are different and not all are into dolls, it’s possible your daughter may at some point develop an interest! Our Bitty Baby line encourages nurturing skills, with an emphasis on pretend play, among girls ages 3 and up. A common play pattern for girls in this age range, imaginative play is at the heart of our Bitty Baby play sets and accessories. The line focuses on every day themes like bedtime, travel, and mealtime, so one way to encourage your daughter to engage with her Bitty Baby doll is to encourage her to feed her baby, or tuck her in, or get her ready to go to the store. We also have a line of premium Bitty Baby books, written by Newbery Honor author, Kirby Larson, which follow a little girl and her Bitty Baby doll as they discover the world around them. Each book concludes with a special “For Parents” section that focuses on the social and emotional experience of preschoolers and offers parents tips to help their little girls become more confident, patient, and independent.
— American Girl
What age do you think is the target market for American Girl dolls?
There’s a doll for children of every age! The Bitty Baby collection is typically popular with younger children, age 3 and up, while the My American Girl, Girl of the Year, and Beforever collections are typically popular with children age 6 and up. But there are no rules when it comes to creative play, which is another reason we’re so excited to bring the American Girl brand to Ottawa!
— LN, VP IndigoKids
I know some boys who are really into dolls. Can you imagine creating an American Boy doll?
We know that many parents who have come to know the quality of our products would like to see an equivalent line for boys. However, given our commitment and focus on creating premium products that speak to girls’ self-esteem and development, we do not have plans to develop a doll line for boys at this time.
As a side note, we do currently carry boy baby dolls in our Bitty Twins line; however, this line is not currently available to Canadian customers due to differences in compliance regulations between the U.S. and Canada. It’s possible that this could change in the future, but want to make sure you are aware of this.
— American Girl