May 2, 2014 6:54 pm

American Girl dolls arrive in Canada at stores in Toronto, Vancouver

If your kid already has an American Girl doll, then you “get it.”

Canadian parents, until now, had to travel to American cities like Chicago and New York City to purchase American Girl dolls. Now they can walk into specialty boutiques in Canada.

This is the company’s first foray outside of the United States.The popular dolls will be sold exclusively in two Indigo locations – one at Yorkdale Mall and the other on Robson Street in Vancouver.

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Global News got a sneak preview of the Toronto location before Saturday’s grand opening.

“We have 26 customizeable dolls to choose from, with different skin, hair, and eye combinations,” Lesley Nightingale, vice-president of Indigo Kids said.

The 1,800 square foot location will include dolls from the Girl of the Year, My American Girl and Bitty Baby collections as well as the Dress Like Your Doll girl-sized clothing.

There is also a hair salon for dolls with 100 styles to choose from and you can get your doll’s ears pierced too.

There has been growing dissent on the internet by parents complaining about the hefty pricetags ($125 for an 18 inch doll) and the “keeping up with the Jones’ effect” in the schoolyard.

One angry parent who goes by the name Dadmissions writes:

“I am increasingly on the side that hates these dolls, hates hates hates,” he wrote. “For me, the American Girl doll is the ultimate school girl battle royale. We went in and spent a ton of money, knowing it was a ton of money we don’t necessarily have, because we wanted our daughters to have what many of the other kids at school have. But you can’t just buy the doll. You need the outfits and the pets and the accessories and the hair-dos.”

Natasha Sharma, a psychologist specializing in parenting, says the dolls and the desire for them is predictable

“We are social creatures, this is social psychology. So if our friend likes something, we like something. And then our friend likes it, and so it becomes a network.”

The brand launched in 1986 with a mandate to educate girls about various points in American history.It was purchased by Mattel and now accounts for 11 per cent of the company’s profits.

Retail analyst Maureen Atkinson of the J.C. Williams Group believes American Girl will have a lot of traction in Canada because girls have been going to the United Sates and turning to the web to purchase the dolls for years.

“I’d say it’s comparable to scrabble in terms of longevity. [MarketWatch is] forecasting 10 per cent of American sales which would mean about $60 million dollars – so that’s a pretty significant number.”

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