By Colleen Leahey, reporter
FORTUNE -- When is a doll not just a doll? When it's made by American Girl. The Mattel-owned (MAT) company, founded by Pleasant Rowland, opened a 12th retail property in St. Louis in April, and two more will open this fall. The company celebrated its 25th anniversary and its best year ever -- $511 million in sales in 2011. The stores feature salons (for the dolls; 30 hairstyles at $10 to $25) and cafés (with doll booster seats).
By the numbers
44: Total number of hues of eye color, hair color, and skin color that girls can choose from when buying a My American Girl "Just Like You" doll (pictured).
4%: Increase in sales last quarter, in large part because of the company's limited-edition "Girl of the Year" doll. This year's model is named McKenna.
46 million: Number of visitors to 12 American Girl stores since the first one launched in Chicago in 1998. To maintain the stores' cachet, the company plans to open just 20 worldwide.
Source: American Girl
This story is from the July 12, 2012 issue of Fortune.
Dolls, guitars, and chips: See how these three small companies got an edge on their giant competitors.
By Jessica Shambora, reporter
Kahn Lucas vs. American Girl
The challenge: More than 18 million American Girl dolls have been sold since being introduced in 1986. Is there room for another "dress like your doll" company?
What they did: Kahn Lucas, a 121-year-old girls' apparel company in Lancaster, Pa., last year launched a new line MOREOct 11, 2010 3:00 AM ET
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