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Bursting Bubbles

Jonathan Clements  |  April 22, 2015

EVER HEARD of Shopkins? Until six weeks ago, I was blissfully ignorant. But suddenly, it was all my 10-year-old stepdaughter could talk about.

Shopkins are small made-in-China plastic creatures that depict everyday household items—think coffee pots, pieces of cake and toilet plungers—with faces crafted onto them and holes so they can rest atop pencils.

Sarah’s friend Nadia had pronounced Shopkins “cool” and owned more than 100. Sarah was soon scrounging up every penny she could find to invest in Shopkins. Her collection quickly topped 50. A flourishing market sprang up during recess at PS9 on New York City’s Upper West Side, as kids dumped lesser Shopkins and tried to upgrade their collection. Over dinner, Sarah would regale us with stories of the day’s feverish trading activity.

And just like that, it was over. Some contrary child suggested that maybe Shopkins weren’t all that cool, and within days the fad was over. Like tulip bulbs in 1637 and Internet stocks in 2000, interest in Shopkins collapsed with shocking speed.  Sarah’s plastic creatures now sit neglected in her room, not far from her collection of Eos lip balms and Disney pins—and, at dinner, Sarah talks of other matters.

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