When I was a little girl, I was introduced to Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly. The Pleasant Company had created a perfect combination of wonderful books about girls from America's history and dolls to match those characters. I would flip through the pages of the catalog dreaming of the day when I would get to be the proud owner of Molly. Oh, I loved Samantha and Kirsten. How could I not? Samantha had lovely long hair and Kirsten was from Minnesota. But I wanted Molly. Molly was the girl for me because Molly's glasses were the coolest things ever! (I didn't even have glasses at the time)
The Pleasant Company was located in Chicago and I longingly hoped and wished that some day I would see my life long dream become reality. Unfortunately, that dream never came to fruition. I grew up and learned the Mattel had purchased The Pleasant Company. I disavowed the dolls and said, "If I couldn't have the original, then, forget it." Yes, I was a bit dramatic.
Somewhere along the way, I started to have babies. Those babies turned into little girls. Little girls who loved to play house and dress up their animals. They never really liked their dolls. In fact, we packed their baby dolls away, and they haven't asked for them since.
Until one day, Kyla said, "Mom, I want an American Girl Doll." And our journey began.
The Mall of America in Bloomington is home to the American Girl Store. They are also in 14 other cities around the country. As soon as Kyla she wanted one, I knew we would be visiting the Mall. And so began a year and a half of saving money for our little. She started when she was 6 years old. She asked for nothing but money for birthday presents and Christmas presents. All her allowance went into savings. As each day passed, I grew more and more proud of her.
These dolls aren't cheap. For the doll itself and book, you shell out $110 and if you want her accessories, it's $129. So I knew it was going to be a struggle. By her 8th birthday, she had enough money saved, and we were headed to the American Girl store.
We got to the mall and waited for Grandma outside the shop where they have big windows for you to look into the Doll Hair Salon and watch the stylists do the dolls' hair. As we watched and waited, Kyla was getting more and more excited. Finally, Grandma showed up, and into doll paradise we ventured.
American Girl Store is located next to Nickelodeon Universe and spans 2 levels. The first floor located adjacent to the amusement park hosts the historical characters as well as the girl of the year, the bitty babies, the bitty twins, the bookstore and the Doll Hair Salon. The 2nd floor is home to My American Girl Dolls, matching clothing for girls and dolls, and the Bistro. Everywhere you looked, there was pink and red and white. And stars. Lots of stars.
I noticed as we were taking our time admiring every single historical character and the girl of the year throughout the store that everyone was happy. The girls were happy. The moms were (mostly) happy. The staff was happy. Smiles were everywhere.
I also was completely impressed by the staff's kindness and attentiveness to each guest. While I asked for help, she wasn't really answering my questions. She knew that she was answering Kyla's questions and spoke directly to her. Kind and full of smiles, did I mention that already? The American Girl store offers personal shoppers as well--from what I could see, it was a free service--and I would highly recommend this.
When we walked into the store, Kyla couldn't decide between 5 dolls, so we wandered back and forth for awhile until she was able to whittle it down to three. Then, we did the same thing until she could pick two. From there, we had to track down someone to help us. There was a lot of staff, but there were even more customers. So if you are going with the intent to purchase a doll, I would definitely suggest having your own helper with time set aside to help you.
When you visit the American Girl store, you shouldn't be surprised to find an activity taking place. They frequently plan crafts or other special events for you to enjoy with your doll. While we were there, the girls had a chance to make keepsake boxes for their dolls. The boxes were something that Rebecca from 1914 would have treasured.
By the end of the shopping experience, Kyla happily and firmly selected Josefina, brought her wallet to the register to count out her money, and walked away with bag full of happiness
American Girl Store Highlights:
- With so many displays, there was so much to look at. We spent 2 hours in the store and could have stayed longer. Everything is neat and orderly. The girl of the year and the newest historical fiction characters were prominently displayed, but it was easy to find the other dolls.
The bathrooms were cool. Each bathroom was equipped with this
--a doll holder. These are for sale in the store. While this cracked me up, I thought they were awesome, too! Not only that, but the bathrooms were very pretty.
American Girl Store Disadvantages:
- The American Girl company is very commercialized. I miss Pleasant Company. But just because it's now extremely commercialized doesn't make it bad. The staff truly take care of you and help you have a great experience. It's a lot like Disney, and I love Disney. I've had a change of heart over these dolls, and it's a good thing.
My last recommendation would be to make this an experience to enjoy together. Don't make it a simple shopping trip to buy the doll and leave. Stroll around the store, page through some books, look at all the details of each doll, revel in your daughter's awe of the impressiveness of the hoopla. Give yourself plenty of time--building up to the event and for the event itself.
But our journey to the American Girl Store is not complete. Stay tuned for Bistro Dining.