I have had a busy week filled with American Girl excitement! Last weekend my mom and I took a trip to the American Girl Place in St. Louis. I have been to the American Girl Place only two other times, both in Chicago. Once was a few years ago when we had some free time downtown Chicago on a college choir tour and my sporting then-boyfriend-now-husband allowed me to drag him around in there as I taught him all about the wonderful world of AG. My first time was when I was 10 or 11 and the American Girl Place was brand-spanking-new. My girl scout troop went on an overnight trip to Chicago with an evening at the American Girl Place being the focal point. Only one other girl in my troop had AG dolls, but since my mom was the leader of the troop I was able to have a bit of influence on the itinerary. 🙂
That first American Girl Place experience was just that…an experience. We saw the theater show, An American Girl Revue, which as a lifelong band geek/music nerd/theater participant I absolutely loved. It is such a shame that it does not exist anymore. We had dinner in the cafe, which was so fun (I was in awe of the doll chairs), and we wandered through what seemed like endless rows of glass display cases of the beautiful collection that I had only ever seen before in a catalogue (actually that’s not quite true–my family once visited the showroom in Middleton, but I will save that story for later). I remember distinctly that the glass windows on the outside of the stores showed a display of dolls in a camping/outdoorsy scene. I recall gazing at it happily as we left the store, attempting to permanently sear the image to my brain (it must have worked), only to find that the rest of the girls were halfway down the block and I was standing there alone.
Now onto my more recent experience in St. Louis. Let me first start by saying I had a great time and was really glad we went. I did bring home some items for my new Caroline collection, which was exciting. I might also add that I am 15 years older than I was during the events of the previous paragraph, so that might have some affect on the amount of magic I experienced, but I kind of doubt it. I really love my dolls basically just as much as I did when I was 10.
- The first thing you see when you walk in is the Beforever (forever known to me as “Historical” or simply “The American Girls Collection”) display, as it should be since the historical collection is the foundation of American Girl
- There were lots of dolls on display that you could actually touch, and even more amazingly, dolls that actually were in beautiful condition even though they are touched all day
- The salespeople were helpful but not pushy
- The Truly Me (forever known to me as “American Girl of Today”) doll display was really cool–they were in displayed by hair color gradient
- The doll salon was neat–I had never seen one before. It was cool that it was kind of out in the open and you could stand and watch dolls have their hair done
- It wasn’t too terribly crowded, something I was worried about on a Saturday
Here is what disappointed me a little bit:
- As much as a liked that the Beforever display was at the very front of the store, it could have used more continuity. “Here’s Kit! Oh, wait, here’s some more Kit stuff…oh, over here on the other side, look! Hmm, I wish the had the beds and pajamas. Oh wait, there they are, over there by the cash registers…”
- The store was tiny. However, it kind of works, because American Girl clearly has less product than it used to. They seemed to actually have trouble filling the tiny store…I got tired of seeing the same windsurfing set every ten feet or so.
- It was not an “experience” like my trip to Chicago. It was a store, where you buy things, and that’s pretty much it.
- I think part of the reason it didn’t seem crowded was because I spent most of my time at the Beforever displays…and sadly that is not where most of the little girls were gathered. I saw only 2 historical dolls carried by little girls, and both were dressed in modern clothing. It was heartbreaking. Nothing against modern dolls (I have one), but it just saddens me to see the disinterest in history in today’s girls and the shift in the focus of the company. As we left though we saw a little girl bringing home a brand new Kit, so maybe there is hope. 🙂
Something else I was really hoping for, but wasn’t really expecting, was a display of the archived dolls. Unfortunately there was not one, but maybe there is in Chicago, since that is their “flagship” store?
Does anybody have any of their own American Girl Place impressions? I would love to hear them!
Before we went to the American Girl Place, I opened my new Caroline doll, my birthday present to myself. I love her so much, and will do a post devoted to her soon!