American Girl has come a long way from the mail order company it was when I was younger. Even then, every girl knew all about American Girl’s historic dolls and educational art activities (like making ink from berries), but they didn’t have stores yet, or the amount of doll varieties and services they do now.
Today, American Girl is celebrating the grand opening of their 16th store, located at Stanford Shopping Center. To help commemorate the event, paper doll crafts and other hands-on activities will be available for kids in the store, performers will be in the center’s courtyard, and several stores are offering discounts (say “American Girl” at Sprinkles for a BOGO cupcake) and specials during this two-day weekend event.
American Girl San Francisco is a gorgeous 15,000-square-foot, two-story shop complete with a dream staircase (its also extra wide for little ones and heavy traffic), bistro, hair salon, T-shirt press, and every doll imaginable. I took my daughter by the store for a peek, and it really was a little girl’s paradise. The legendary historical American Dolls that are still available for sale were set up in scenes in display cases with other accessories available for purchase on the first floor, but there were also Bitty Baby dolls (twins, too!) for little ones around age 3 who are just starting to want their own baby to nurture. Some of these babies are out for kids to touch, along with wagons and fun little play kits (so it’s very easy to get a sense of what items your child wants).
On the second floor, you’ll find a t-shirt design center where your child can have matching custom shirts made in a variety of designs. There’s also the Doll Salon, where staff detangle the tresses of well-loved dolls, show doll owners how to take care of their doll’s hair, give mini doll facials, and pierce doll ears. (This will be my first stop on my next visit. My old Felicity doll’s hair could definitely use some TLC from the professionals.)
Another amazing service offered on the second floor is the Bistro. Here, kids can bring their dolls (or use a loaner) in for a snack, or even tea service! Each table is designed with American Girl’s little one’s in mind, and has a box filled with conversations starters for families to
share during their visit to the Bistro. (This is the other service my daughter and I will be trying on our next visit, so I’ll include more info on my follow-up post.) But be sure to make a reservation if you want to dine in, because reservations fill up quick! This bistro is already booked for the next three months. There are some seats available on a drop-in basis at the soda bar, though, so don’t despair.
If you’re looking for a party venue, the Bistro also has a separate room for events, complete with doll holders and an extra special chair for person of honor.
Aside from these fun services, the second floor is home to American Girl’s personalized doll collections, where kids choose from around 45 dolls available to create one that looks and dresses just like them. These dolls also come with a special code that gives their owner online access to the educational online world of American Girl. If your child prefers the offline world, American Girl is still filled with books about each character doll, and crafts kids can do at home with friends and family.
Going to this store is definitely an experience, and with all the other fun places to visit while you’re there, it can easily turn into an all-day outing. Since this was my first time seeing an American Girl store I was pretty amazed by everything, but I’ll work on a follow-up after I’ve taken my childhood doll in for some of the services available.
Have you ever been to an American Girl store?