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Buh-Bye, Club Libby Lu

There's plenty about the state of our economy to lament and plenty of stores that are going out of business that we may feel sorry for -- even miss.

But there's one that's closing that's simply a good riddance: that's Club Libby Lu. More than a year and a half ago, we had a spirited discussion about the store, which was founded in 2000 by Mary Drolet, bought by Saks Inc. and expanded to 98 stores around the country. Club Libby Lu stores -- which ultimately proved unprofitable for Saks -- will all be closed by the end of January, according to Club Libby Lu's Web site.

Last spring, a commenter who identified herself as Drolet described the experience at Club Libby Lu as this:

"Club Libby Lu is a place -- first and foremost -- where little girls can engage their imaginations and have fun being a girl. Yes, that involves playing dress-up, getting their hair done and the application of a little makeup. Those are the means to an end, though, with the end being how these activities make a little girl feel."

The problem was that the club's version of dress-up involved hooking girls as young as 3 on glittery tube tops, tight pants, boas, nail polish, lip gloss, tiaras and runway modeling. Princesses and pop stars -- hence sex -- were in. So, dress-up was cool and fun, if it was sexy. No pilots or doctors or astronauts or firefighters to dress as in this place.

Drolet's dream of a place where girls can spread their imaginations is a great one. Now, girls everywhere will just have to make up those dreams themselves while "borrowing" from Mom and Dad's closets and bathroom drawers.

Club Libby Lu's demise has pleased at least some in the blogosphere:

Writes Greg Allen at Daddytypes.com:

"So awesome. Club Libby Lu is closing all its stores. ... When I first discovered Club Libby Lu as a new parent, I dreaded about someday having to fight the superficial, idiotic, pop culture-worshipping chain's impending influence on my daughter. But then after a snotty little CLL employee chewed me out, I ran the numbers and saw that I didn't need to worry: the Club Libby Lu concept was failing in slow motion and would only get easier, not harder, to avoid."

That's a far different impression of the store than the one commenter Drolet portrayed on the blog last year:

"If you teach your daughters that they have to look good to succeed and that outer beauty is what matters most, that's what they'll believe.
But if you teach and show them they can be anything they want to be, no matter what, and that nothing is impossible, then that's what they'll hang on to. And if you take them to Club Libby Lu, they'll have fun, they'll feel empowered and good about themselves, and they'll love you even more for it."

How do you feel about Club Libby Lu's closing? Do you wonder whether something new will try to fill its "void?"

By Stacey Garfinkle |  December 5, 2008; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers , Tweens
Previous: No, Things Weren't Better Way Back When | Next: Are You Done?

Comments


Is this really a topic?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 5, 2008 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Santa might put coal in my stocking for this but I am a glad that they're gone!

Posted by: ishgebibble | December 5, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Umm. Never heard of it. I guess it really isn't a big deal. I agree, is this really the best topic you could come up with?

Posted by: martintomsal | December 5, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I never heard of this club before.

I am doing a jig of joy that the Bratz kids company has been been halted from further production due to some copyright infringement case. After this year's load of big headed, little hooker dolls are sold off, no more will be made. Yeah!

Posted by: catweasel3 | December 5, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

The first time I saw one of these stores, it had a gaggle of little girls who were dressed in clingy black outfits and looked-for lack of a better word-SKANKY. I was gob smacked to realize that some moron thought that this store was a good business-but then I was even more shocked that any parent would take their child there. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Posted by: bubble1 | December 5, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Three years ago, I would have cheered the news that Libby Lu was closing. Now? Eh, who cares?

It's not someplace I would have chosen to take my daughter, but I no longer think that occasional exposure to shallow, girly-girl crap (though, say, a birthday party invite) will ruin her. She's three now, and though she is obsessed with pink and princesses and loves to wear dresses and play with baby dolls, she also runs, jumps, climbs,fishes, hunts for frogs, builds with blocks and has a terrific imagination. As long as she maintains a balance, I'm not concerned about her affinity for pink and sparkles.

Posted by: newsahm | December 5, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

My daughter is a big time girlie girl, loves pink, princesses, sparkles, and dolls. However, my issue with Club LL was that when the girls dressed up, they were trampy, not princessy or pink or sparkly. Slutty. I'm wondering when a club will come out that will get 6-10 year old boys looking like mini beefcakes, where their chests get greased and they wear tights with a potato in the crotch? Not anytime soon, I'll bet.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 5, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I for one am glad that it's closing. I was amazed that it existed in the first place. My daughter went to a birthday party there a few years ago. I had never heard of it before then. The hair and make-up were extreme, but I can deal with that and DD had a lot of fun having it done. The skanky almost non-existent outfit they put her in to dance around the mall I had a major problem with. She was not allowed to go to anymore parties there. However, she has gone to plenty of other parties where girls get their hair and nails done and even dress up. I have no problem with my kids playing with make-up and donning their princess gowns for a trip to the grocery store, but I did have a problem with Club Libby Lu. So I say, good riddance!

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | December 5, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

see ya!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 5, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I have never been to Club Libby Lu - I have never even seen one for that matter. But, this topic brought up another curiosity that I have seen. The store is Justice for Girls. The clothes a cute but pretty pricey. My dd loves to go there and browse around and check out the sales (yes, I've taught her well!). On many Saturdays when we have shopped there were birthday parties going on. Yes - BIRTHDAY PARTIES in a clothing store! There was the makeup and the hair styist and the clothes and the red carpet.

The girls were definately not 'skanky', and they were having a good time playing dressup - but really - in a clothing store? Seemed odd to me, but also kind of ingenious.

Has anyone else seen this store or been to their parties?

Posted by: BlueBird4 | December 5, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I think that Disney is trying to "fill in the void" with their "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique" at Downtown Disney and the Disneyworld Resort:

"Girls age three and older can choose from three hair styles — Fairytale Princess, Disney Diva and Pop Princess — and three packages:

Coach Package includes hair style and shimmering make-up -- starting at $49.95 plus tax
Crown Package includes hair style, shimmering make-up and nails -- starting at $54.95 plus tax
Castle Package includes the Crown Package plus Imaging Package, and complete costume of your choice with accessories -- starting at $189.95 plus tax

Boys over 3 years old have their own special Cool Dudes Package, which includes colorful hair gel and confetti for $7.50 plus tax."

Oh, and in a nod to Hannah Montana... they've also added "Disney's Secret Star Makeover" for $109.95 plus tax. I saw quite a few girls running around the park on a hot day looking quite uncomfortable in their princess gowns with their hair all done up and plastered to their heads.

I don't care how much my daughter (who is now 3 and, according to Disney, old enough to take part in this) begs and pleads-- I will NEVER let her do this (aside from the fact that after paying for my family to get into Disney I wouldn't be able to afford this extra expense).


Posted by: florida_mom | December 5, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Princess, Disney Diva and Pop Princess — and three packages:

Coach Package includes hair style and shimmering make-up -- starting at $49.95 plus tax
Crown Package includes hair style, shimmering make-up and nails -- starting at $54.95 plus tax
Castle Package includes the Crown Package plus Imaging Package, and complete costume of your choice with accessories -- starting at $189.95 plus tax

Boys over 3 years old have their own special Cool Dudes Package, which includes colorful hair gel and confetti for $7.50 plus tax."


What is the target audience for this crap? Who are the sap parents who would buy this stuff? Why is the package for boys soo much cheaper than the junk for girls?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 5, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I submitted a comment hours ago that was held for review. Really? Censored? What part is offensive? I can't use the word "beefc8Ke"?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 5, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with girls dressing up going down a runway and pretending to be a model or a princess or whatever as long as it's not skanky. I do have aproblem with people who are so rigid that they say oh there are no doctors or accountants or blah blah. That's adult politics and is completely irrelevant for a child. "Hey buddy instead of pretending you're a cowboy or an astronaut why don't you pretend you are a sales manager or a junior accountant?" Big fun there....

Posted by: pwaa | December 5, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"What is the target audience for this crap?"

Parents who bring their three year olds to Disney.

"Who are the sap parents who would buy this stuff?"

Parents who bring their three year olds to Disney.

"Why is the package for boys soo much cheaper than the junk for girls?"

Snide answer: because there's a double standard.

Less snide answer: because Disney's marketing geniuses have figured out that parents will pay more to "doll up" their daughters than they'll pay to "doll up" their sons.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 5, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I have one "word" for this: ahahahahahaha... There's not enough good cheer in the WORLD to describe how happy I am that more little girls aren't going to be so BLATANTLY indoctrinated that the only path to female success is through pink glitter and overpriced, trampy costumes. Let's all cheer the demise of this abomination!

Posted by: cupgoddess | December 5, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

My Holiday Newsletter


"My son graduated from high school in 3 years and is taking what would have been his senior year to build no-odor cow pie huts for indigenous farmers in north Borneo. He also works with PETA to counsel dog owners whose pets struggle with chronic halitosis. Next fall, he starts his full-ride scholarship at Harvard studying pre-med/pre-law. He hopes to one day sue himself for malpractice.

My daughter is captain of her high school's cheerleading, debate and fencing teams. She donates all of her $1,000/hr part-time modeling income to the model camps she has started in the Patagonia region of Argentina where the women are beautiful but don't have the resources to build runways to practice their strut. Before making breakfast at the local homeless shelter, she runs her paper route, and then it's off to school where she's in charge of the morning announcement program. She was accepted to Stanford on scholarship following her sophomore year but received a medical deferral (the natural color of her teeth were too bright and had to be toned down).

Last year, my wife really leveraged her Playboy Bunny and Rhodes Scholar network to raise money for our community's Be Green, Not Mean campaign. In between tutoring professional athletes, she still enjoys fly fishing and selling search algorithms enhancements to Google. [We just got back from Sergey Brin's wedding on Richard Branson's private Necker Island. Go to our family's website www.WeAreBetterThanYou.org to see pics of me dancing with Oprah and Bill Clinton.]

As for me, I'm still running the same ol' $5B company I started in 2004, as well as doing Brad Pitt impersonations for the United Way ($1.2M raised this year so far). My wife and I started this new exercise program in May and we're both under 10% body fat. We make torrid and zesty love five nights a week . . . our flame is still white hot.

Well, that's it for now. Hope all of you can make our 25th wedding anniversary party. We look forward to flying all of you on our custom 737 to an exotic locale (it's a surprise!).

I'm sure your 2008 was much more fulfilling than ours."

WSJ Juggle Blog

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 5, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

On the topic of dress up and filling the void, check out The Dress Up Club (think "kids dress up" meets "Columia House"). They have just launched in Canada but not in the US (thedressupclub.com)

Posted by: russellw2 | December 5, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"What is the target audience for this crap?"

Parents who bring their three year olds to Disney.

"Who are the sap parents who would buy this stuff?"

Parents who bring their three year olds to Disney."

"Mom can i go see Cinderella?"

No honey, Disney is just a multinational corporation that is trying to suck you into mindless consumerism that robs the planet of its resources and contributes to racism and sexism and enforces a bourgeois culture blah blah blah. Liberals are such preening idiots....

Posted by: pwaa | December 5, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

No honey, Disney is just a multinational corporation that is trying to suck you into mindless consumerism that robs the planet of its resources and contributes to racism and sexism and enforces a bourgeois culture blah blah blah. Liberals are such preening idiots....

Posted by: pwaa | December 5, 2008 1:02 PM


Liberals spend more per capita at Disney...AND they have the best sex.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 5, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"...AND they have the best sex."


With yourself doesn't count..........

Posted by: pwaa | December 5, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

jezebel3

Not impressed in the least! I did not see that you gave one penny or one minute to electing Obama. For all we know, you may have voted for Ralph Nader.

Posted by: anonthistime | December 5, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

We took our daughter to Disney a few months ago. FWIW, I think it was a great age to take her. Since she wasn't quite 3 yet, we didn't have to pay for her, but she was old enough to have an absolute blast. She still talks about it every single day.

I was surprised at how many little girls were running around in sparkle makeup and princess costumes. I cannot imagine paying $200 for my daughter to be tarted up and set loose in a hot, humid amusement park dressed in scratchy polyester. Even if she had been old enough to participate, the answer would have been a flat "no."

Posted by: newsahm | December 5, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"...AND they have the best sex."


With yourself doesn't count..........

Posted by: pwaa | December 5, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse


Bless you.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 5, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm not criticizing Disney-- its a lot of fun and they certainly have the right to make every last penny they can by selling things to people come there to experience it. What I think is ridiculous is that on top of the $$$ spent on getting into the parks, hotel, food and souvenirs... some parents are willing to spend even more $$$ to have their young daughters all dolled-up like their favorite princess. This is one thing that I hope to see change now that the economy has gone down the toilet. What ever happened to just using your imagination? I don't even mind the idea of my daughter having a "dress-up" themed party (although I'd probably just do it at my house and buy stuff from the Dollar Store). But newsahm is right: "I cannot imagine paying $200 for my daughter to be tarted up and set loose in a hot, humid amusement park dressed in scratchy polyester."

Posted by: florida_mom | December 5, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

My daughter went to a birthday party at Club Libby Lu last year. I dropped her off at the store and went to run some errands. When I came back, the kids were dressed up in tight black clothes with something like extensions in their hair and trying to slink down a runway. My daughter, God bless her, looked miserable.

But the truth is, the dressing up and the runway stuff wasn't even the worst of it. Granted, this was probably more the fault of the parents than the store, but at the end of the party, all these moms were lining up to buy what seemed like the whole store for their kids. Meanwhile, my daughter had a meltdown because I refused to buy her the Webkinz she was holding. Tell me if I'm wrong, but the kids already get goody bags at a birthday party -- they don't need their parents to also spend a fortune on merchandise. I just really hated the idea of going to a birthday party so you can buy more stuff.

Posted by: kleewrite | December 5, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

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