What my title refers to is 'American Girl'. A doll store. A store that sells dolls.
Have you heard of it?
Well, I hadn't until a couple of years ago when I first visited the flagship store on Fifth Ave. And I certainly hadn't heard about it circa 1989 when I would have DIED to have an American Girl Doll.
Here's the deal: in 1986 a woman named Pleasant Rowland was searching for dolls to give her eight-year old nieces. She could find baby dolls for little girls, or 'cool' dolls for tweens, but nothing for the 8-12 range. Her search for a perfect doll coincided with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg where Rowland was inspired to make history accessible.
So she started her own doll company with six 'history' dolls complete with stories about them. For example, Felicity is a Revolutionary times doll who believes that the colonies should be free. Or Rebecca Rubin is a little Jewish girl growing up in 1914 New York City. All the dolls come with changes of clothing, books, movies and even matching outfits for the owner.
I am sorry. But I am having a minor FREAAAAAAAAAAAAK out right now!!!! OMG OMG OMG! Is 30 too old for one of these things?
Firstly, I LOVE dolls. I always have and I always will. Even if I have all boys, they will be getting dolls. Any doll, I don't care. I love them. I loved my 'My Child' doll:
I got her for Christmas 1987. I saw her in September at Eaton's (remember that store?) and my mum said if I was a good girl until Christmas she might be under the tree. I was SO good for three months. Come Christmas Eve I couldn't handle the pressure anymore and poked the box that was shaped like her. I peeked in and there was her pretty little face looking up at me. On Christmas morning my mum wondered why there was a hole in my present.
With complete seriousness, I looked up at her, shrugged and said "Santa must've tripped" and proceeded to rip open the box.
Then there were my Cabbage Patch dolls, Barbie dolls, Hugga-Bunch dolls. My grandma even had these knitted dolls that I loved. It didn't matter that they had buttons for eyes, I took them everywhere.
One Christmas, my mum and grandma joined forces and made me a Bride doll. She was BEAUTIFUL. I came up Christmas morning and saw her standing on the table. My one clear memory of my Grandfather is him sitting next to that doll and smiling at me. I didn't want to believe she was for me because she was so beautiful. But seeing as I was the only girl in the family she had to be mine. He smiled and said maybe I should read the tag and see who she was for. He peeked in the tag and read: For Sarah. I was so happy I couldn't even talk.
Oh I loved her. Now that I think about it, perhaps she started my obsession with weddings? In hindsight maybe my grandma and mum should have made me a Wall Street Doll.
But I digress, back to American Girl.
So I love dolls. I also LOVE history. It was my minor at University. I dragged my parents to the Plains of Abraham when we went to Quebec City. I practically lived at Lower Fort Garry every summer. Heck, I go back every time I visit Winnipeg. And I am dying to go to Colonial Williamsburg but some Engineer won't go with me.
Therefore the combination of dolls and history is a bit much for me. I gave myself a headache when I saw this floor. I was practically running around in glee. Okay, fine. I was running around in glee. With a nine-year old girl named Lily. At American Girl, each doll is displayed in her 'era' with little houses or street scenes. It's too much. I would have loved this place as a little girl. Oh wait, I love it now.
The history dolls are just one aspect about this store. You can also get dolls to MATCH YOU. MATCH! AAAAAAAAA! They have dozens of skin tones, hair colours/styles, eye colours, etc. So you can get a doll that ethnically matches you. There is a beauty salon for your dolls. That's right, you line up to have your doll's hair done (this I don't get, isn't the fun of having a doll with nice hair so that you can do it yourself?), a cafe, a doll hospital, a doll portrait gallery (so you can take family photos with the doll?), a nursery where all the baby dolls are for toddlers, a pet store so you can get Coconut, the American Girl dog, and the list goes on.
And this place is PACKED.
With Crazy Wild-Eyed Little Girls with their stressed-out, credit card bearing parents.
It's a lot to take in. Especially on a Saturday.
I thought I would die a bit. There is nothing more terrifying that 100 9-year olds and their high-pitched squealing waiting in line to get doll stuff.
I know. I used to be one.
Running around with their American Doll backpacks (so that dolly stays safe I guess), freaking out over the newest PJ set for Chloe/Katy/Marsha, stuffing their faces with cupcakes (and the mini-cupcakes made in doll size), and in general overworked with excitement and the lethal combination of retail and sugar.
That was me.
God I love this place.
I love it so much I wish I had thought of it. The smallest, cheapest doll is $95. NINTEY FIVE dollars! Then you need the matching clothes, books, accessories, etc. Kids come out of this store armed with the tell-tale red bags. Well, their dads are the ones with the bags.
Pleasant Rowland is a very very happy lady. On her private island.