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Local shop sells 'ugly' toys

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

They may be unpleasant to the eye, but these dolls have a growing following.

Available at Conner's Florist & Gifts in Morrow for about a week, Uglydolls have already proven popular with children and adolescents, said Charles Holden, a marketing specialist for the shop, located at 1654 Lake Harbin Road.

Holden said the dolls first came to his attention through his 9-year-old son's friends. One youngster, Holden said, "couldn't stop talking about them. My son ended up buying her one at a bookstore in Newnan."

The dolls are made by Edison, N.J.-based Pretty Ugly, LLC, and were first introduced in 2001. The company began mass production of the toys in 2003.

Uglydolls have gained popularity in recent years as they've been seen with celebrities. The plush toys also received attention when Sasha Obama, President Barack Obama's youngest daughter, was seen on her way to school with one last month.

Holden said in the week Conner's Florist has carried the dolls, it has sold out of some of the more popular models. He said the store sold about 20 dolls last week.

Each Uglydoll includes a name and a brief summary about the characters.

"Since the Uglydoll property is artist created, all of the designs and character bios are inspiring to others," said Alita Friedman, operations director for Pretty Ugly. "Our message is that ugly is beautiful, and it's what is on the inside that counts."

Though Uglydolls are mainly marketed toward younger children, Holden said they are also popular among early teens.

"We had a lady come in with her 14-year-old daughter," he said. "She's from Virginia, and this was the first store she saw that carried Uglydolls in the area."

Uglydolls won the Toy Industry Association's Toy of the Year award in 2006 and Parents' Choice Award for toys in 2007.

But despite their growing popularity, Friedman says the company has no plans to sell Uglydolls in large retail chains.

"Our distribution is solely in the specialty market at this time and we have been a growing brand through this distribution," Friedman said. "We have no plans to sell to the big-box stores."

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On the net:

Uglydolls: www.uglydolls.com