Saturday, May 28, 2005

Retail Success: American Girl to Open Third Store

Mattel is going to open another American Girl Place store. The new store will be in the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles. The first two stores in Chicago and New York are runaway successes and standard-bearers for "experience retailing". American Girl caters to customers for whom cachet trumps price, selling them dolls, books and a bimonthly magazine. Sales ($379.1 million in 2004) come primarily from its catalog, website and two flagship stores.
Rick Caruso, developer of the Grove, said he expected the store to be "a huge driver of retail sales" at the complex. He said he had been lobbying for an American Girl store well before the Grove opened in 2002, believing it would attract pilgrimages from other states and overseas.

That's because American Girl stores are seen as a girls' theme park of sorts, minus the rides.

"There are so many revenue-generating experiences within the store," said Jim Silver, publisher of industry magazines Toy Wishes and the Toy Book.

At 40,000 square feet, the Los Angeles store will be twice the size of a typical chain drugstore.

It will have a 150-seat live theater for the Broadway-style "American Girl Revue," a doll hairstyling salon, a bookstore and a cafe, where girls can take their dolls to tea or pick one to have lunch with — and possibly buy.

The average American Girl shopping trip takes two hours, compared with the 20 minutes a customer spends in a typical retail store, said Ellen Brothers, president of the Mattel division. Brothers won't say exactly how much her customers spend, but she says it is in the hundreds of dollars.

American Girl's Chicago store was the first to open in 1998, the same year that Mattel bought the brand from Pleasant Co. for $700 million. Five years later, Mattel opened a store on Fifth Avenue in New York. That store attracted 1.3 million visitors last year, the company said — and many of them probably had no idea their dolls were sold by Mattel.
1.3 million visitors! And shoppers spend 2 hours in the store. Think about experience retailing ... could you create in-store experiences that would draw shoppers from far away?

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