Getting Caught in the American Girl Store Vortex

A few weeks ago we took a trip to the new American Girl store in Tyson’s Corner Center near Washington, D.C.  Yes, we took a trip just to visit this store.  If you don’t know what American Girl is, it is a line of 18″ dolls, clothes, and accessories.  They have signature dolls from past decades from the 1900s, 1930s, 1970s, and so forth.  Books accompanying each doll.  There are even American Girl dolls that you can buy that look just like you.  Commercialism got to me.  If it weren’t for the people who lived in my house before us, my kids would probably have never heard of American Girl dolls.  Once we moved in 8 years ago, we were still receiving the American Girl catalogs for the little girl that lived here prior.

For the past 8 years we’ve gone through pregnancy, grad school, preschool, a new car…and so forth.  Buying $100 dolls was not on our priority list or even our plane of reality.

However Santa was able to get my girls American Girl dolls last Christmas.

It brought tears to my 9 year old’s eyes.  For the first time, my girls had dolls that looked like them.  Which I really appreciate.  When I was a kid, all of my baby dolls had blond hair.  There is something contributed to identity when you can have a doll that looks like you.

So when my mother-in-law graciously gave my girls a generous sum of money to spend at the American Girl store, we decided to make a trip out of it.  I had heard the new store in Tysons was no where near the grandness of the one in NYC or some other cities, but it was still definitely worth the experience.

If any of you are thinking of getting an American Girl doll for your child, here are my thoughts:

1. Yes, they are crazy expensive.  The dolls never go on sale.  However, I can’t put a price on my kids being proud of dolls that look like them.  You don’t find asian dolls in your local Walmart or Target.

2. Accessories and clothes often go on sale online.  At the store you can find tons of boxes of clothing/accessory sets for ~$25.  I kept telling myself that these are collector’s items that can be passed down to my kids’ own children…I’ve got to teach them how to keep these safe!

3. The store itself is pretty neat.  There are doll holders in the bathrooms and the in-store cafe/bistro.  There are multilple floors of dolls, clothes, and accessories everywhere you look.  Some people have described this as scary, but it feels a bit like Disneyland.

4. You probably will get caught in the doll salon experience.  Tons of girls and their parents are ligned up at the salon to get their doll’s “hair done”.  What does this mean?  You pick a hairstyle (mainly braiding) and someone will spray the hair down with water and do it up.  Oh yes, and this will cost you $15-20.  And yes, I got it done for my kids…sigh…along with $10 ear piercing (covers head in shame).

5. There is also a T-shirt service where you can design a shirt for your doll and yourself.  The designs are pre-made.  I thought you could design it with your child’s name and the name she gave to the doll, but you just picked designs.  That set me back ~$30…yes, I did that too.

If it weren’t for my mother-in-law and recently being blessed with extra contract work the past year, none of this would have happened.  But I’m happy it did. 

Lesson Learned:  Sometimes you just want to spoil the ones you love.  You’ll find you’ll spend insane amounts of money for insane things.  Don’t do it unless you can, you want to, and you will have no regrets.  I have no regrets.

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2 thoughts on “Getting Caught in the American Girl Store Vortex

  1. Pingback: Doll School: For Girls Who Love to Teach! (American Girl) | Back To School Sale

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