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American Girl Dolls Can Be Worth Big Money on the Resale Market

Prachi Bhardwaj

American Girl Doll just announced the 2020 “Girl of the Year.” She’s a surfer, a competitive cheerleader, and the first American Girl Doll to be “born” with hearing loss. Her name is Joss, and she could represent a very good investment opportunity, if history is any indication.

For over a decade, the Mattel-owned American Girl Doll brand has been ringing in the new year with the release of a limited-edition “Girl of the Year.” Joss Kendrick is the latest addition to the Girl of the Year line, as the company announced on New Year’s Eve, .

The American Girl Doll “Girl of the Year” 2020 went on sale at the brand’s website and retail stores starting Jan. 1, and the package that includes the Joss Kendrick doll and her book is available at the standard price of $98.

What happens to the American Girl Doll “Girl of the Year” after her year is up? Well, Joss will one day join the growing list of "retired" American Girl Dolls.

American Girl Dolls are typically sold in limited quantities, and they eventually disappear from stores. But that’s when American Girl Dolls can become truly valuable. It’s not always possible to predict which American Girl Dolls will be worth the most money in the future, but it’s likely that the “Girl of the Year” doll will ride the supply and demand wave of third-party e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay, where some American Girl doll sellers can really rake in cash.

The 2017 Girl of the Year, for example, was Gabriela McBride. She originally sold for $115 in a package that included both the doll and book, according to a now-defunct sales page. Yet a recent listing for “Gabriela McBride” shows the pair selling for $169.86 on Amazon.com (a 48% return), and Gabriela McBride is listed for as much as $250 on eBay (a theoretical markup of 117%). Before Gabriela, there was 2016’s Lea Clark, previously worth $120 and now selling for up to $400 on eBay — a 233% return if the seller gets someone to pay up.

The “Girl of the Year” collection of American Girl Dolls isn’t necessarily worth the most money. Some of the most sought-after and valuable American Girl dolls are the original three. Samantha, Molly, and Kirsten’s have been around the longest and their value only benefits from the fact that they were all retired in the last decade. The rare 1986 Samantha Parkington was retired in 2009 and today she could sell for $1,000 on eBay. The newer 2014 version of Samantha, on the other hand, is still available and retails for $98.

With the limited-edition Girl of the Year dolls, there isn’t a drawn-out waiting period for the items to disappear from stores. Historically, a Girl of the Year doll has been available on americangirl.com from the first of the year to the last of the year, although the company has added an extra year to that timeframe since Gabriela. Both the 2019 and 2018 dolls (Blaire Wilson and Luciana Vega) are still available for sale on the American Girl Doll website as of January 2, 2020.

But it could be worth the wait. There’s little indication on the website or in press releases about how much dolls cost pre-2016, but they’re all worth quite a bit more than any of the dolls you see on the website today.

What makes an American Girl Doll valuable? Which American Girl Dolls are worth the most money?

Well, as mentioned, certain older and hard-to-find dolls are highly prized. Also, anyone deciding to make an investment out of an American Girl doll should remember that the better the condition of the doll, the higher the return. Used dolls can go for higher than the original retail price, but a mint condition and unboxed doll would sell for the most money down the road. So if you plan on opening the box, remember to keep the doll’s documents and any receipts in a safe place, keep her original clothing, and try to leave her unmarked and uninjured (which means no scissors to the hair).

For the inevitable wear and tear, American Girl has a doll hospital — because doll healthcare is a small price to pay for the chance at making a 200% return on your investment.