The American Girl Boutique opened up inside of Chapters on Robson Street last weekend, and my daughter Zara and I got the opportunity to visit it ahead of time and scope things out. Before the event invite I’d heard of American Girl but had no idea how big they are!
Zara is 7 and told me she had seen American Girl commercials on TV, but neither of us had ever seen an actual doll. We had no idea what to expect. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the store at 7am on opening day and saw there was already a very long line up to get in. Some girls brought their dolls along, others waited anxiously to get inside at 10am and see an American Girl doll for the first time. I thought to myself – this is crazy, who waits in line for a doll? Then we went inside, and it became obvious.
The dolls are beautiful. They are really well made, and have gorgeous thick hair, they are endearing; even to adults. The best part about the American Girl experience for me was the fact that they encourage little girls to pick one special doll (maybe even the one that looks most like her), and then buy accessories and items for her. Yes there is a doll of the year released annually, but I didn’t feel any pressure to build a collection of dolls. They are definitely an investment retailing at $125 each, but I would rather buy one American Girl doll than multiple plastic dolls and their houses, cars, and other accessories.
Zara checked out all the dolls before she settled on the one that she felt looked most like her. It was really refreshing to see so many different options of skin colour and hair colour – there was actually 4 or 5 dolls that looked like they could pass as Hispanic or South Asian, definitely a welcome surprise. We also loved the fact that the dolls don’t come with names or birthdays – it lets you really personalize and connect with the experience. Z named her doll Izzy (one of her own nicknames) and decided the day she got her is going to be her birthday.
Once you’ve got a doll you can buy clothing and accessories for her, and even bring her back to the American Girl Salon to have her hair styled or her ears pierced. While I know these things can add up in cost, I think it’s a great way to talk to your little girl about finances. I made a deal with Zara that we can come back in a few months and I’ll get Izzy’s ears pierced but if she wants another outfit for her, she’ll have to save some of her allowance. It’s a great ‘save up for it’ learning experience.
Now that we’ve had Izzy almost a week, I can totally understand why all those little girls were lined up to get into the store that morning. Zara and Izzy are inseparable, from morning to night they are constant companions.