For most little girls, a doll is their best friend, their sibling or even their little girl. For my grand daughters, The American Girl doll and the store itself has been an experience that will stay with them for years to come. It is also a glowing experience for the grandparents who for the most part make this experience a reality ( and a memory). My wife feels that five years of age is the perfect time to have this experience as the girls have become more responsible, responsible enough to understand that these are not “just dolls”, but a part of the family. Last year, Zoe, our granddaughter in Connecticut had her experience in the New York store and still recalls it with a smile on her face.
This year, our Sarah became five and last week-end made the trip from the northern suburbs to Michigan Avenue- Water Tower Place, to enjoy her experience. From the second she entered the store ( which is far more than” just a store”, Sarah’s eyes grew larger as she was in awe at what she was seeing. A true department store for dolls and their little girls. She had seen the catalog and heard about her cousin Zoe’s experience, but none of this could prepare her for what her day was going to be.
She walked around with her mom and grandma, looking at the dolls and clothes before they went to the cafe for her “birthday lunch”. As she looked at the dolls, one caught her eye- Rebecca! Despite the fact that her younger sister is named Rebecca, this was the doll of her choice and nothing could sway her from making this choice. It was love at first sight. Rebecca joined them for lunch as well. They also visited the salon and of course, bought several matching outfits. Sarah’s friends knew she was making this trip and so instead of smaller gifts, went the American Girl way with gift certificates allowing her to purchase more than she would have. The excitement grew even stronger as they tried on outfits “together”- it was a match made in heaven.
The lunch was geared for her taste ( and Mom and Grandma did okay with the adult food) and oh, those rolls! Wow!. A birthday to remember. Since it was a “girls day”, I had to hear about it after the fact, but as they spent their day downtown, through the miracle of the electronic world, I was kept up to date as to what was taking place with photos and a video, where I met Rebecca during their lunch.
This week-end, Sarah slept over at our home and when bedtime approached, both Sarah and Rebecca donned their matching PJ’s, and prepared for beddy-bye. By the way, I kissed them both on the cheek as I tucked them in. In the morning, both Sarah and Rebecca came in to our room to wake us up- both dressed and ready to spend the day doing fun stuff ( Spring break). No matter what, Sarah was always concerned about her little “girl”, who she adores.
The American Girl is not just a store- it is indeed an experience. While I wish they still had the small plays, I understand that they needed space fot eh beauty salon, the many accessories, the cafe and the displays of clothes ( for dolls and girls who own them). We are fortunate to have an American Girl shop, right here in Chicago. Others have to travel miles and miles or only shop the catalog. Having this beautiful store, allowing for a young girl’s dream to become reality is something very special.
Once you make the visit and enjoy the special feeling of the Bistro/Cafe, you may decide to make this an annual event ( or even mr eoften as you can come in for brunch,Lunch,high tea or dinner. To get all the hours, I suggest you visit www.americangirl.com/stores/experience_dining.php
The Chicago location is in Water Tower Place located at 835 N. Michigan Avenue. In this magical store, you will find the cafe/bistro, dolls, clothing, accessories, doll hair salon, books, gifts and they are noted for their special birthday parties and packages. check it all out at www.americangirl.com as they have special events all year.
For those who cannot make it to Chicago, all the wonderful dolls and accessories can be purchased online, but if you are planning a trip to Chicago, why not include this as part of the overall experience. Your daughter will never forget you for this. I already know that in two years when our “real” Rebecca turns five, we will be back for HER American Girl Place experience.