NPR logo Shanghai Barbie Palace Closes Doors As Mattel Changes Tack In China

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Shanghai Barbie Palace Closes Doors As Mattel Changes Tack In China

A message on the Shanghai store's website directs visitors to www.barbie.cn for information about the Barbie Pink Bus Tour. Screenshot hide caption

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A message on the Shanghai store's website directs visitors to www.barbie.cn for information about the Barbie Pink Bus Tour.

Screenshot

Barbie was living large in Shanghai, until yesterday. Now she's traded her six-story palace of pinkness for a bus, also pink.

Two years ago, during Barbie's 50th anniversary, Mattel opened up a flagship Shanghai store celebrating — and selling — everything connected to its little plastic star. The store was a sign of Mattel's commitment to a market Barbie had been working for years.

The AP paints a picture of the home Barbie has left behind:

The six-story store, complete with spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products, closed Monday, the world's biggest toy maker said in astatement explaining that it plans to use its experience in Shanghai to reach customers across China.

The store's website tells visitors that Barbie is hitting the road now that her Shanghai pad is closed:

I have gone on a tour of China! Go to www.barbie.cn to find out about my Barbie Pink Bus Tour.

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The Shanghai store's site also offers up alternative outlets for buying Barbie products.

The Financial Times quotes an analyst as saying Barbie hasn't catered to the local audience, which prefers Hello Kitty cute to Barbie sexy.

A Mattel spokesperson, however, told AFP that the store closing only represented a change in strategy:

Mattel spokeswoman Linda Du declined to provide sales figures for the store or China as a whole.

She said the store's closing reflected a change in strategy, adding that Mattel would launch a new campaign to expand the brand across the country later this year. She gave no details.