In China, we know one blonde who isn't having more fun. Barbie, the quintessential American doll, packed her perfectly accessorized bags after her Shanghai flagship store closed. It was the world's second Barbie store, but it dwarfed the scale of the first, established in Buenos Aires.
The 35,000 square-foot, six-story Mattel merchandising mecca in Shanghai lasted two years, with profits apparently as wobbly as Raggedy Ann's legs. The store was intended to be the centerpiece of Barbie's excursion into Chinese retail, opening on her 50th birthday. It even had a spa and cafe so Mom could drop a few yuan on herself.You had to admire the symmetry, too. As WalletPop pointed out after the store's debut, China produced most of the 100 million Barbie Dolls sold each year, so she might as well have a special place to call home where she's actually born. She made it already as the American dream, a hinged piece of plastic with unrealistic proportions who became the must-have girl toy for more than a half-century.
No such luck in Shanghai. The store had to lower its reported sales expectations three times, according to Bloomberg, not a good sign in a nation where sales climbed an average of 18% in
2010. Barbie lovers stateside probably have nothing to worry about. The Barbie revenues here appear solid, according to reports.
Mattel said in a release that it would continue to market in China, and Barbie herself, dressed in a strapless cocktail number, chirps in English on the store's website, "I have gone on a tour of China!"
But she won't be seen by the fashionable set at the palatial Barbie boutique in Shanghai's Huaihai Road shopping district anymore. Local parents, the AP remarked, are more likely to spend disposable income on lessons rather than dolls.
Unfettered optimism accompanied the store's opening not so many moons ago. A business professor at a Shanghai university said in the WalletPop story, "Mattel is thinking to rebuild the brand image here as a dream, a paradise not only for little girls but for their mothers, too."
One less engagement will leave Barbie with more time to spend at another paradise, perhaps her Malibu Dream House.
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