Many young girls enjoy playing with dolls. American Girl dolls are very popular, collectible, 18- inch dolls that are suggested for girls ages 8 and up. There are a variety of dolls that can be purchased, but what makes American Girl different is that dolls are designed featuring characters from historical eras. Dressed in clothing from their times, these dolls have unique stories which are included in a variety of books, one of which arrives with the doll when it is first purchased.
In 1998 the company was acquired by Mattel and has evolved over the last 25 years to include additional doll lines. There are baby dolls as part of the Bitty Baby collection for kids ages 3 and up. The Bitty Twins line allows children to purchase twin baby dolls. Girls can also chose a doll from the My American Girl line of dolls that has the same skin tone, eye color, and hair color to reflect their own individual characteristics and personality. Aside from the dolls, the brand has grown to include clothing accessories, movies, magazines, books, and arts and crafts, all with the mission to help young girls develop their own unique personalities, values and strong attributes of friendship.
Last week I had the opportunity to take a tour of one of the flagship retail stores for American Girl, which is in New York City. I was completely amazed at the type of experiences that are available for young children and their families.
In 1986, I was 9 and I honestly don't remember if I was still playing with my beloved Cabbage Patch Kid or Barbie dolls. This was the year that the Pleasant Company sent out their first catalogue including some of the first historical characters with their books, which promoted learning about various historical periods, values, and responsibility, written from the point of view of the historical character. Though the Pleasant Company catalogue never reached the doorstep of our home for me, having a sibling 12 years younger, my sister's first American Girl doll was Felicity. I do remember her obsession with all things American Girl, awaiting the arrival of the catalog prior to every holiday season. My mother went crazy purchasing accessories and reveling in the detail of the clothing and accessories, which was very reminiscent of her experiences with dolls as a child.
While at American Girl Place not only is there the ability to purchase a doll and accessories, there are so many opportunities to create a memorable experiences that will last a lifetime. For additional fees, children can chose a unique hairstyle for their doll and an actual hair stylist at the Doll Hair Salon will complete the hair style on their doll and teach them how to recreate it while at home. Dolls can partake in spa packages which allows them to get cleaned and some even chose to get their ears pierced. Kids can have a photo shoot with their doll and their picture will be printed on the cover of American Girl magazine. Lastly, families can congregate in the restaurant and have a meal experience. Brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are served, featuring seasonal menus. Dolls sit at the table in their own individual "Treat Seats" or high chairs. If you forgot your doll, dolls can also be borrowed for meals. Many girls enjoy experiencing their birthday parties at the store with family and friends.
There are personal shoppers available, merchandise can be shipped home for a nominal fee, and there are fitting rooms available in case girls want to purchase additional clothing for themselves to match their doll's outfit. In-store crafts and experiences are also available, and vary from store to store.
What I love about the American Girl company is the attention to detail in not only their doll lines and accessories, but in the actual experience of visiting the store. Just walking through the store it is bustling with happiness and excitement. It was really sweet to watch girls shop the store with their mothers and grandmothers. To me, for young girls, the American Girl store is a place to create lifelong memories, to dream about new experiences and a place where dreams come true.