Ever wanted to be Barbie for a day?
Maybe get yourself a glittery hairdo, pink makeup, wear a shiny gown and play with dolls for the entire day. Sounds good?
As for me, well, can’t say I’m interested in doing that, at all. But make a G.I. Joe theme store and I’m there, no doubt about it.
A new store, named the Casa de Barbie (Spanish for House of Barbie or Barbie Store), has officially opened. Young girls wait for hours to get in and mothers make offers on clothes that are just up for decoration. The fanaticism is incredible.
How the Barbie Store Idea Come to Be
The idea for the store came to Tito Loizeau, 37, in a shopping mall three years ago. He went on to build this Barbie-themed store and it’s been a huge hit in Buenos Aires, Argentina ever since.
The way he tested his idea was to set up a small “House of Barbie” promotion for Mattel (creators of Barbie) inside of the shopping mall. The demand was immediate – and powerful. Kids would want to buy everything in the store – even items that had nothing to do with Barbie.
“It would be a pink shirt you could buy anywhere in the mall,” said Loizeau. “But they’d want the shirt because it was associated with Barbie.”
The Debut of the Casa de Barbie
So he decided to open the 6,996 square-foot Barbie “fashiontainment” store – first in the world. In the bubble-gum scented store, girls with a love of everything Barbie get their Barbie hairdos and makeovers at the Barbie beauty parlor and can play with dolls at the Barbie playroom while eating their pink-frosted desserts from the Barbie cafe.
It wasn’t easy for Tito Loizeau to get his Barbie Store open. He spent a year persuading Mattel to license the idea of the store to him. Loizeau, along with two partners, put up $500,000 of their own savings to open the House of Barbie. His group now has exclusive rights to the Barbie Store license in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay as well as first-option rights in all of Latin America. In exchange, Mattel takes a percentage of all sales made in his Barbie Stores and the exclusive right to expand the Barbie Store concept around the world.
Why Do Argentinian Girls Love the Barbie Store So Much?
“I am here because I wanted to have my hair done for my mum’s birthday,” said six-year-old Pilar Tolosa.
Open since September of 2007, the chic Palermo neighborhood in Buenos Aires – home to many high-class restaurants and swank boutiques – has been taken over by the Barbie frenzy.
“There are girls who come every single day,” says Loizeau. “No one understands it.”
To enter the store and partake in the Barbie activities, you’ll be paying $7 an hour. You’ll then recieve free access to play with the Barbie dolls and toys, you can try on the various costumes, makeup, and jewelry. Once you’ve found the perfect Barbie wardrobe to wear, you can walk down the Barbie catwalk runway, where you’ll be strutting under the disco lights and thumping music. The Barbie Store also includes the coffee shop and beauty salon, where you can get a Barbie hairstyle or a painted butterfly on your cheek. You can also rent out the Barbie playroom for your kid’s parties at a starting rate of about $650.
Exclusively for Barbie Fans
“It is something that is just for the girls, that is the most important thing and I think that is their most favorite thing. That is what makes them feel special. As soon as they enter they see a place that is exclusively for them, where they are the stars of the store, that was created for them,” says Barbie Store manager Fernando Bosc.
Tito explains that Saturdays are the most hectic days at the Barbie Store. “It’s chaos,” says Loizeau about Saturday afternoons. He says that the Barbie birthday parties bring even more chaos. Some girls “get angry that they can’t go in and they throw tantrums.”
Although a huge hit now, Tito didn’t think it was going to explode in popularity the way it has. He had an initial estimate of about 20 or 30 girls a day but he’s had days with over 150 children coming in.
The Initial Idea for the Barbie Store and How It’s Changed Over Time
It’s interesting how what he thought would sell well didn’t and that only after conducting various focus groups that he found out what really would sell. He originally wanted to sell glamorous Barbie outfits in kid sizes. Once he did some focus groups with mothers, he found out they didn’t like the idea – even if the young girls would approve. Instead he found that the best strategy was to commission the development of basic kids clothing in a Barbie theme that has matching items for sale. He also initially targeted girls 3 to 9 for the sizes but he found that he needed to create bigger sizes as demand grew from girls as old as 16 wanting Barbie apparel. He even has plans to create adult sizes in the near future.
It also may be surprising to know that the store doesn’t focus on selling dolls – even there are some select dolls for sale. Instead, the focus is on T-shirts, handbags, skirts, and pants in various shades of pink. The clothing is designed and made in Argentina and are available only at the Barbie Store.
Not a Barbie Toy Store
“We’re not a toy store. Girls play here and then they want a Barbie.” says Loizeau.
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As far as future plans go, anything is possible. For the near future, Tito Loizeau plans to secure funding in order to open more Barbie Stores in other cities in the neighboring regions of Buenos Aires.
The Barbie Store address is Scalabrini Ortiz 3170 Capital Federal in Buenos Aires, Argentina and they can be visited online at their Barbie Store website: Barbie-Stores.com. The Barbie Store phone number is 0810-4444-BARBIE and the store hours are Monday-Saturday 10am-8:30pm and Sunday 1pm-8pm.
What do you think of the idea of the Barbie Store? Would the idea work just as well in other markets around the world?
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