This started as a reply to a MiceChatter on the Tokyo boards making the fairly common criticism that there is too much Duffy merchandise in McDuck's, but it grew long and I think it's probably "too long" for the original thread since Duffy is not the topic. Still, after doing all the thinking to write it, I wanted to share it with the original poster somewhere and I thought Duffeteers might find it interesting, too.
There's a whole story in my Duffyverse about how Minnie Mouse first sold Duffys made at her little Co-op Workshop just through Aunt Peg, a local Village Store owner in Cape Cod who was the first business partner to the struggling little seamstress. I love that Mickey and Minnie live in Duffy's hometown in the post-Duffy TDS universe.^^ Later, Minnie expanded due to Duffy's overwhelming popularity and Scrooge McDuck got the exclusive rights to sell Duffy in his famous New York store. From there, "Duffy Fever" went global when Scrooge made a shrewd partnership with Galleria Disney in Mediterranean Harbor to bring the bear across the Atlantic...and then there's The Sleepy Whale, which has never really worked for me, although since Mermaid Lagoon is the "kids'" area, I totally get why Duffy's presence there makes sense from a sales perspective.
In the past, Duffy felt like a "featured item" in the front showroom of the upscale McDuck's Department Store. Being a featured item in the grandest-themed Disney shopping venue on Earth gave Duffy a kind of "luxury brand" image. It really felt like he had "arrived." Now, though, it's the front showroom and the entire midsection, plus every shop window every day of the year. McDuck's feels almost as much an exclusive Duffy shop as Aunt Peg's. I've warmed to it, because McDuck's is my favorite shop and Duffy is my favorite character/item, but I can understand how it would frustrate someone who doesn't see Duffy as the most fantastically amazing wonderstar of all time the way I do.^^ McDuck's really does have an image of its own, unlike Aunt Peg's which, like Cape Cod itself, Duffy's presence has enhanced tremendously. Duffy made that area really matter.
It's not the same thing for McDuck's, no question. I have actually wondered myself about Duffy's huge presence lessening the impact of what McDuck's Department Store really is. It's a completely valid concern, and one I hope that OLC shares. McDuck's should not be just a "Duffy shop." I wish every shop in the park was focused on creating its own "brand image" and having original and exclusive items related to the attractions around them and their own Port, even their own shop concept. As an example, at no point during Spring Voyage did I feel comfortable seeing the merchandise in Port Discovery or Mysterious Island. It just did not belong there and I found it distracting every time, especially in Mysterious Island. It was interesting (and heartening^^) for a Duffy fan to see Duffy literally everywhere during that event, but if there is ever another Spring Voyage, I really do hope each Port has its own product line with distinct and appropriate designs. Honestly, I'd love it if every event did that and all shops were unique all the time, totally focused on their sense of place in the particular Port fantasy.
Even if the shops were run as I've said, I'm not sure Duffy shouldn't be heavily featured at McDuck's right now. I don't think it can be avoided at this point, from a practical perspective. There are, as it turns out, a whole heck of a LOT of Duffy fans and that space, like Galleria Disney, is truly needed during the early days of merchandise releases. But I also don't think it can last forever.
Duffy is an indelible part of Disney history now, and time will absolutely prove that to be true. Cape Cod Village Greeting Place and Spring Voyage are testament to the fact that Duffy is not going anywhere any time soon, and that his momentum is actually still growing. But I don't think the shop windows at McDuck's can be devoted 100% to Duffy in perpetuity. McDuck's Department Store will eventually find a balance between its own brand image and being the "upscale place to get Duffy 'in the city.'" Right now, though, I still think the heavy feature makes sense within the context of the TDS park narrative. It's exactly like the turn-of-the-century teddy bear boom, and it fits beautifully within the era of the American Waterfront. There is no way that Scrooge McDuck wouldn't capitalize on this moment and get every last dime he can out of "Duffy Fever," right? If that's what would yield the greatest profit, that's what Scrooge would give the space to, especially considering just how huge that margin is right now. I think it's believable that Scrooge would let Duffy have full run over the Department Store as long as the temperature runs this high, so I don't find it distracting, but on the contrary, compelling. At least for now.
Because the Duffy phenomenon works with telling the park's story, deepening the setting by creating an atmosphere that matches chronologically, I think it should work even for guests who aren't Duffy fans. It really is pretty remarkable how well Duffy's real world marketing success blends seamlessly into the Imagineers' vision of early twentieth century New York. It's a perfect symmetry between the park fantasy and reality itself; that's kind of amazing. The dream quite literally has come true.