Walmart issued out an apology for a pricing “error” after a Kentucky mother questioned why some Black dolls the retail giant was selling had been priced way higher than White dolls. In an interview with WCPO, Asheria Brown said she became aware of the discrepancy when she visited the retail store’s online platform to search for a Black version of a doll set for her oldest daughter.
Brown said her daughter had initially selected a White doll set at Walmart, but she decided to go on the retail giant’s online platform to check if she could get the Black version of the doll set in question.
“She picked out the white one, with all white little babies in the store,” said Brown. “So I went home and went to Walmart.com and found one set in white and one in Black.”
She, however, surprisingly found the Black doll set was more expensive than the White version. “They were 14 dollars and 97 cents more expensive than the white babies I saw in the store,” Brown recalled.
Brown also said the price difference did not reflect in just one Walmart store as she also saw the valuation on Walmart.com. She took a screenshot of it. “There are seven Black babies and there are seven white babies,” she said in reference to the doll set. “But one set is $39.97; the other is $25.”
Though Walmart claimed it was an error, there have been other instances where shoppers have found Black and White toys have been priced differently. Duke University professor (and doll historian), Dr. Sabrina Thomas, told WCPO Black dolls are occasionally priced higher because they’re usually hand-crafted and not that common.
“The problem, I believe,” Thomas said. “when we look at these discrepancies in pricing is that toy manufacturers do not produce Black dolls in proportion to the number of people in the human population.”
Responding to the price discrepancy in a statement, Walmart said: “We lowered the price on a select group of toys, including only one of these dolls, to help drive sales. Unfortunately, we overlooked the impact these changes would have on similar items. This was an unintentional error and we sincerely apologize to anyone it may have offended.”
The prices of the dolls have since been adjusted online, and both sets now have a similar valuation. Deb Britt, founder of the National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture in Boston, said companies would cease valuing such products differently when more shoppers complain.
“People have to go like this woman did, and address it with store managers, to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Britt said.