Monday, June 28, 2010

Why we love some dolls and not others, Part I: Purchase decisions by guest blogger Milady Blue

Guest blogger Milady Blue begins a new post series on her "years of yore": what young doll collectors once had to do in order to bring a new doll home into his or her own collection. How she may have discovered a new doll or new manufacturer, and the actual process of shopping for, and the decision to buy the doll are covered here.

Why We Love Some Dolls and Not Others
Part I: Purchase decisions
Special Guest Writer Milady Blue

Buying dolls these days is quite a bit different from the way most of us bought them in the days of yore. As in, the days before the internet existed as it is today. I’ll try not to turn this into one of those tiresome, “When I was your age!” rants.

My doll-buying venues were limited when I was a kid. You had to either walk or somehow talk your parents into a trip to a store, and figure out where the toy department had been moved this time. There was the prize: the doll section!

This was something that could make or break a toy company’s success with a doll. The collector would stand before the doll section, look at the dolls on display, and make up her (or his) mind as to whether she wanted to part with hard-earned money. Children who earned allowances also had the right to the title of “hard-earned” attached to their purchasing power.

There, in the store, face to face with the doll that had somehow caught your attention, was the moment of truth. The doll companies had spent however many thousands, if not millions, of dollars marketing
these things, trying to entice people to buy them.

Moment of truth. Will you or won’t you?

Despite being something of a tomboy, the answer was yes in most cases. I would take that doll off the shelf, bring it to the cash register and put my money down.

In some cases, the answer was no. Most of the time, it was a very simple reason: I did not like the doll, which failed to live up to expectations. There were many factors that settled the walking away: I did not like the face, there were too many blondes in my collection already, the doll was too expensive, or I saw another doll I wanted more.

Today, it is more of a gamble, since many collectors buy their dolls from online sources.

There are advantages, of course, to buying dolls online. You can look at several different websites that offer dolls any time of the day or night. This can give you an edge when it comes to pricing, because you can find great deals on dolls if you really, really look for them. Then, too, there are boards, forums or other groupings online where you can ask fellow collectors for input. Not just on the dolls, but the individual vendors.

This last is probably the most important in my decision making as to whether I am going to buy a doll, and whether it will be from a certain vendor. Some doll sellers have lower prices than others, but there might be a hidden cost to take into consideration. What are their shipping costs? What is their return policy, in case the doll is damaged or otherwise broken? Most importantly, are they a good seller? Sometimes, the lower prices come with inefficient or rude service, and paying a bit more for your purchase might actually be worth it for the better service.

Problems crop up about security concerns over your purchase details, such ensuring that credit card information is secure. Then, too, depending on if you are buying the doll in another country are import taxes, value added taxes, shipping costs, and other hazards.

The hurdles have been jumped, the package is in your hands, begging you to open it. No one has ever been able to explain why it is a package always seems to be begging to be opened. Then the package is opened. The lid is lifted, the tissue or other packing material pulled apart, and there lies the doll. He or she is mine at last!

Love her? Or not?

This is the moment of truth. Will you decide you like this doll, and must immediately lift her out of the package? Or do you take one look, and wonder how much you can get for it either by selling it on a doll board or forum, or on eBay?


  1. I have to say that shopping for dolls and awaiting that package (and opening it) are about 33% of the fun of doll collecting for me. It's like Christmas. Even as fluid as my collection is, I have rarely (if ever) been disappointed with a doll I have received.

    As much as I love shopping in person, there is just something extra special about getting the dolls in person!

  2. I have to admit, waiting for a doll to arrive in the mail is more of an anxiety driven thing for me. Will I or won't I like the doll when it arrives? It hasn't happened often, but occasionally I've been disappointed by a doll that I've only seen online. Unfortunately there's such a dearth of brick and mortar doll stores in my area, that I must rely on the internet for most of my doll purchases.

  3. That is my dilemma, too. It was brought home to me very strongly when I went to a doll show on June 26, and saw some dolls face to face, like I used to do when I was younger. Dolls I had only ever seen online, in pictures, were there right in front of me. Love it? Or Not? In person, it is much easier. That is about the only thing I dislike about the primarily online shopping experience for dolls. If I dislike it, then I have to go through the expense of shipping it back, instead of simply walking away from it.


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