I had first heard about this line of dolls from a friend a few yeas ago on a business trip to Chicago. I can’t exactly remember what year it was. What I do remember is that a mommy friend of mine was obsessing over a visit to the store to get a doll for her daughter.
I accompanied her to the shop and dropped my jaw not only at the prices but at how busy the shop was filled with little girls clutching their mini-me’s. I was amazed at the gallery like display of endless dolls. The multi-level shop also included the whole American Girl Experience complete with hair salon, hospital, and tea room. You can buy matching outfits for the doll and your little girl. If you’ve been to this location you know what I’m talking about. It’s the creme de la creme when it comes to doll heaven.
When my sister had her first born girl I was knew I was going to be that spoiling auntie. So I made the big investment of Lily, the Chinese doll that looks exactly, I mean EXACTLY like my niece, Sarah. Lily came with a book that explained her friendship with Julie (another doll). Sarah was only 4 when we gave her the doll; she didn’t know anything about American Girl. She only knew that here was a doll that looked like her. She took care of Lily and renamed her Little Sarah. You can sense that there was something special with this particular doll.
Whenever we travel to the U.S. we’ve been able to pick up a few new outfits and accessories for her doll. It sure makes holidays and birthdays easy! I admit to buying the doll because I thought it was cute. That’s all.
Since it’s inception in 1986, America Girl has been bringing smiles to girls ages 3 to 12 through age-appropriate dolls, accessories, books and movies.
Finally, I had a chance to bring my shy niece, who’s now 7 to the store to give her a taste of the American Girl Experience. With “little Sarah” in hand we ventured on opening day. The line up was incredible. I noticed tweets coming out from those in line starting at 2:00 am and realized there are some serious fans out there. When we arrived at 7:30 am there was a line up of 800 parents with kids, grandparents and doting aunts. *wink*
My sister came to the grand opening as well. As we wandered through the excitement my sis started telling me that there’s more to American Girl than what I saw. “What do you mean?” I asked. She began to tell me about her daughter’s 7 year old friend who is also quite shy. She doesn’t have a doll yet, but there’s thoughts of a few families getting together for her next birthday and chipping in for one. “That’s cray” I say to her. “It’s more than a doll,” my sister tells me. ” The friend has been reading all the books and honestly it’s helped build her self-esteem and confidence.”
I had no idea. I mean I’m in the land of Lego and video games with my boys and my sister is not one to get caught up in any frenzy. She also tells me that Sarah goes online to the American Girl website and has registered her doll so she can converse with other American Girls. My red flags go up but then my sister explains that you can send messages to other American Girls but the messaging is pre-determined on the site and reinforces positivity and thoughtfulness. You can express how you feel but the words are already there you just pick the message. What this is doing is teaching kids how to converse in a meaningful way. Does this apply back to real life? It’s gotta have some impact… I’ve noticed my niece isn’t a girl who uses blunt words when she’s frustrated or upset.
Fun Fact: American Girl Hairstylists train for about 21 hours
So, I totally get all the buzz and fuss over these particular dolls. I admit to getting caught up in the excitement and buying my niece a new outfit to match the Doll of the Year, Isabelle. Hey, that’s what spoiling aunts do! It’s a treat.
But why did American Girl enter into the Canadian Market under the Chapters Indigo umbrella? “Indigo’s launch of American Girl reinforces our total commitment to the importance of creative play for kids with one of the most adored and iconic brands in the world, “says Heather Reisman, Indigo CEO and Founder. “We’ve loved American Girl for years through their books and now we’re delighted to offer a fantastic new experience for kids and their parents in our American Girl speciality boutiques.”
There’s been a lot of discussion about the brand and I’m aware that there is a Canadian company, too. Maplelea Girls is out there and I’m happy to hear there is support for this brand as well. I wouldn’t doubt that the news of American Girl entering into our market has encouraged even more awareness for the Canadian brand.
Two totally different brands, both with positive messaging regardless.
We need more of that for our girls, don’t you think?