Taking a Stand – The Down Syndrome Dolls

Down Syndrome Dolls

A ‘Down Syndrome’ Doll

I admit it… when I first put the Down Syndrome dolls up on our site, I was totally unprepared for the firestorm that would follow.  The terrible comments we got, the threats and all the haters.

I admit I was a bit upset, so I went to a friend who had a child with Down Syndrome, showed her the emails and the doll and asked point blank: “Is this really as insulting and insensitive as all these people are making us out to be? Should we stop selling these dolls?”

And her answer was “Absolutely not!” These are wonderful dolls and I am so grateful that you have them.

I could write a book about all of our experiences from that time, but I think a simple bullet point list will be more succinct.

  • Our whole business at The Pattycake Doll Company is built around the concept that children love to have dolls that they can relate to, that look like them. We believe that Black children should have the option to play with Black dolls, Biracial with Biracial, Asian with Asian, Boys with Boy dolls etc. Not every doll in the world should be a white girl. Not that Black children can’t play with White dolls or White children with Black dolls, but that all these options should be available.
  • We were already carrying doll guide dogs, doll’s wheelchairs, doll’s hearing aids etc, and had learned that (for example) children in wheelchairs loved having wheelchairs for their dolls as well. And that schools and other organizations found these options were a great way to teach children to not be afraid of other children who were different.
  • Fanny Wong, the designer, got input from and consulted with many Down Syndrome organizations at every stage in the development of the doll. Their response was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Finally they were put into production and offered for sale.
  • The children who received them loved them… we never got a return.
  • But there were a lot of haters too. “My child does not look like this doll… what an insult.”  “How dare you make a doll that singles out our children for ridicule.” Etc.
  • The issue was debated all over the press. We were contacted by Time Magazine and McCleans, CNN and others as one article begat another. It was a hot topic for awhile.
  • Despite the artistry and manufacturing genius that went into the making of these soft-sculpt dolls, these are still basically cloth sacks, fiber filling, needle and thread. There is a gap besides the big toe. There are a straight hand creases embroidered across the palm. The ears are a little lower and smaller, the eyes are almond shaped, the tongue shows.

In the end though, we’re proud to be still selling these dolls. Yes there were dozens of hateful, bitter, even sad letters and emails. But compared to the dozens of negative parents, there were hundreds if not thousands of happy children who received these dolls and loved them. We think we did the right thing.

Doll Review : ‘The Grinch’ by Manhattan Toy

'The Grinch' doll by Manhattan Toy

‘The Grinch’ doll by Manhattan Toy

With the Holiday doll buying season in full swing, we’re starting to get more of ‘what do you recommend?’ calls* at The Pattycake Doll Company. One of our favorite dolls to recommend is ‘The Grinch.’ Here’s why:

  1. He’s popular… almost every kid over three knows who this guy is, and what he did bad. And kids love ‘bad boys,’ especially when they manage to redeem themselves.
  2. They also love ‘grown-ups,’ who act like kids. They ‘get’ that kind of humor and appreciate it.
  3. Gender neutral. The Grinch can be given to both boys and girls.
  4. Holiday themed… not only do kids love him, but he can be used as seasonal decor in your home or office. (We would suggest that you be careful if you are giving it as a gag gift at the office though; in some circles being called a Grinch is not exactly a positive.)
  5. The doll itself is well made. Colorful, soft plush, 14 inches and cuddly.
  6. We also offer Cindy Lou Who doll and Max the Dog doll. Cindy actually outsells The Grinch doll, but she is not what we would consider gender-neutral, which is why we generally lead with The Grinch character doll

*We can be reached from 9 AM to 9 PM Seven days a week at (646) 481-DOLL.  We spend more time in the warehouse than in the office at this time of the year, so you may have to leave a message.

FTC Disclaimer: We are obligated to disclose the relationship to the supplier or manufacturer for any products we endorse or review. In the case of The Grinch doll, we received no compensation from Manhattan Toy for this review. Our relationship is simply “vendor – reseller.”

Start a Doll Business? 4 (More ) Things to Know

Notice: If you have no interest in how to start, how to run, or what goes into owning a doll store, you can skip this post!

About once a week, someone sends us an email asking how they can start a business like ours. But the answer is not so easy to put in an email, so I’ve decided to start peppering this blog with that information, so that in the future, I can just say, read the blog – it’s mostly there!

Thank you for Support

Here are 4 (more) things you need to know to start a Doll Store (in no particular order):

  1. It’s called “Black Friday’ for a reason. Of all the businesses you can start, the Doll Business is definitely skewed towards Christmas Sales. At the Pattycake Doll Company, 60% of our business comes in during the last 6 weeks of the year.
  2. Why are we in the red before Black Friday? Because if you want to sell $100,000 in dolls for Christmas, you have to buy that inventory beforehand. And not a week beforehand, but months ahead of time. So you have it. In your warehouse.
  3. The dolls you sell during the year are different than the dolls you sell for the Holidays. The dolls you sell for the holidays are generally more expensive.
  4. Never trust the manufacturers to ship you the right products in the right quantities. Check the purchase order against the packing slip. Does what you received match what you ordered? Then confirm the packing slip. Did you actually get everything they claim they shipped? Then check the invoice. Are they charging you the right price for the right quantities? Remember, there are seven people involved in every order. Salesman vs Buyer, Pick-pack vs receiving, and Accounts Receivables vs Accounts Payable. Add the shipping company, (shortages and damages) and you can see all the places where mistakes can be made.

Pattycake Dolls & The Pattycake Doll Company

Madame Alexander Pattycake Doll

Our personal Madame Alexander Story Book series Patty Cake ‘Wendy’ doll.

 

Once we’d decided on the name: ‘The Pattycake Doll Company’ (based on a treasured family heirloom from my wife’s family – that post is here), it became a fun game to see if we could find other Pattycake Dolls to go along with our namesake doll.

Patty Cake Doll Wendy by Madame Alexander

Madame Alexander promotional picture of the Wendy ‘Patty Cake Doll’

Sure enough, we were able to find plenty, including this other favorite doll of ours, The Patty Cake Doll from Madame Alexander. Patty Cake is one of the famous 8″ Wendy dolls and was one of the ‘Story Book’ series. it is based on the children’s Pattycake poem, and includes the ‘Baker’s Hat,’ and “cake marked with a ‘B’ ☺”

Patty cake, patty cake, baker man,                                                                                    Bake me a cake as fast as you can.                                                                                  Pat it and Prick it and mark it with a ‘B,’                                                                              And put it in the oven for Baby and me!