-- One young collector loves American Girl dolls so much she has filled her entire bedroom with them.
Annabella Koen, an 11-year-old from New York City, has been collecting American Girl dolls since she was 2.
Now, she said she has “about 31” dolls in her family's New York apartment, but said there were more at the family's Long Island beach house, where the dolls have their own room.
“So 34 to 35, something like that,” she said.
She also collects all the accessories that come with them, including doll purses, beds, stuffed animal pets, clothes, shoes, hats, make-up kits and more.
“This is Mary Grace and Cecile’s banquet table,” she said, pointing out each item. “It has punch bowls and treats and stuff like that and big old cakes and this is their table that came from outside on their porch.”
Annabella is an only child and a lot of the dolls and their accessories have been gifts from aunts, grandparents and other relatives over the years. She said prefers American Girl dolls over other dolls like Barbie, which is also manufactured by Mattel Inc., the toy company that owns the American Girl brand.
Barbie doll sales have actually been declining in recent years, down 13 percent last year, according to a 2014 Mattel report. American Girl doll sales rose 3 percent during the same period.
“I never really liked Barbie dolls because they’re so tiny. You can’t really play with the different little pieces,” she said. “I would always step on them.”
When asked whether she knew how much all her American Girl doll items cost, Annabella wasn't sure.
"I'm bad at math," she said. “Probably thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Since they debuted 30 years ago, American Girl dolls have grown into an empire worth millions. Mattel said it made $620 million in American Girl doll sales last year alone.
The New York City store, American Girl Place, even includes a restaurant where customers can take their dolls to tea time and a salon where dolls can get their hair done. The companyalso offers a “Doll Hospital” at its Wisconsin headquarters, where customers can send their dolls to be fixed and cleaned up.
The dolls are marketed like a collector’s item, and each year the company releases a limited edition doll with her own accessories, available for only one year.
The problem for parents: They don't always make enough to meet the demand, and entrepreneurs buy up coveted items quickly to resell them online.
This year, the featured doll is named Grace, a girl from Paris who is trying to save her grandparents’ bakery. She comes with a French bakery set, which is already being scalped on eBay for as much as $4,900.
Annabella already has Grace's coveted French bakery, and she loves setting up her dolls, brushing their hair, changing their clothes and sharing them with her friends.
“A lot of this is super, super girly,” she said. “I don’t think a boy would want to come near it.”