the American Girl madness begins

Last week, my two year old daughter and I were lucky enough to be invited to an after-hours private party at American Girl Place New York. It was a benefit for the Children’s Cancer and Blood Foundation, and next year I will be sure to do all my readers a favor and tell you if this benefit happens again, because there were seriously about 35 people in the entire store. I gather that is not the usual feel of the place.

Maggie is too young to really know anything about American Girl dolls, but after about five minutes in the store, she looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said, “I get dolly?” (Another word of wisdom for future visitors: bring a doll from home with you, even if it’s not Matilda or Bathsheba or one of the actual American Girl varieties).

I was not going to get a two year old a hundred-dollar doll, so we found the Bitty Twins area (two for $95 and they allow split orders). We picked out the blonde chiquita pictured above and we were good to go. Since Bitty Twins don’t come with preassigned names, Maggie quickly christened her baby “Dora Buffalo,” after her favorite TV show and her favorite large, shaggy-haired sort of wild ox.

And then we took Dora Buffalo to the tea room, where she sat in a special doll booster seat while Maggie had two helpings of chocolate mousse.  Maggie was starry-eyed by the entire experience, almost as dazzled as I was. It was definitely exciting, after raising two little boys, to escort my young daughter to the Girly-Girliest Place on Earth. And although I am appalled at the idea of spending $38 on “Lulu’s Turn of the Century Bathing Costume,” or whatever, I have a feeling American Girl will be receiving a few more of my hard-earned dollars.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie D March 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm

American Girl dolls alone make me very thankful that I don't have little girls. The phenomenon was just getting started when I was in elementary school, and all my friends had one, but I did not, and I wanted one soooo bad. I KNOW that if I had a little girl I would need a 2nd job to pay for the Girl of her choice and all of the necessary accoutrements.

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Anonymous March 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

My daughter saved all her birthday and Christmas and allowance money for two years to buy one. I bribed her to stop sucking her thumb by promising to buy $100 worth of clothes for it if she stopped. It worked. It was a lot cheaper than braces. Daughter is in college now with very straight teeth, and I recently sold the doll and all the clothes for about $100 on Craigslist.

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Amy Wilson March 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

OK you both are making me feel way old, in that there are college students–and MOTHERS– young enough to have had American Girl dolls of their own. Seems to me I was fully adult when they came on the scene.

Anonymous, the story of your daughter saving up for two years for her own AG doll is so interesting. My own 7 year old niece, this past Christmas, got one present from the entire family– an AG doll– while the other six kids got piles of presents. She seemed very happy with that tradeoff. While the AG dolls are certainly overpriced, little girls really do seem to value them.

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Anonymous March 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Well, it was really in very good shape when I sold it, so I'm not sure the play value was that high. She played with it some, but not enough that I would have felt the purchase price was worth it if it had been MY money instead of hers. The substitute for braces was, of course, completely worth it. 🙂

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Anonymous March 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm

You have a beautiful brown haired and it looks like a dark eyed daughter. I'm curious as to why you purchased a blond doll rather than a doll that reflects your daughter.

Although I do not like the fact that Mattel is Barbie-lizing the line by moving away from history and literature to fashion, we have been an American Girl doll family since the Pleasant Company days. All the girls start with a Bitty at age 3 and get their 18 inch doll at age 8. The dolls, horses, furniture and accessories are well loved and heavily played with.

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Amy Wilson March 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Actually my daughter is very fair and blue-eyed. Her hair used to be strawberry blonde, but is getting darker as she gets older. So while I did buy the doll that looked the most like her, at this point she is at least as brunette as she is blonde.

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RebeccaC March 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I feel old, too – I seem to recall being well into adulthood before they came on the scene! My 7 year old has two. She does take much better care of these than she does of most other toys. And they are both from the 'Just Like Me' collection – both are blue eyed and blond (light and medium) while my daughter is brown eyed and brown haired. It was her choice (actually this year she did select one that looked like her but it was sold out and blondie was second choice). Her reasoning was that they look like her best friend and, when she couldn't be with the real one, she'd have the dolls as back up. She has several outfits , not a lot, and we have great fun going through each catalog and playing "what if". I imagine we'd have a much tougher time if we lived in NYC and in such close proximity to the store. As it stands now, we have plans to visit someday…

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