My reviewing a doll company and going to their flagship store in Manhattan made me laugh – I am the quintessential tomboy and don’t remember ever playing with dolls as a kid. I would play with my brother’s Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars and later play basketball with him and his friends.
It was a freezing cold late afternoon in Manhattan in January when I stood looking up at the American Girl Place sign with an, “I don’t know what to expect” expression. Walking in I was overwhelmed by the openness and funky design of the store. The displays were so real and they had dolls to represent every child.
Kimberly, my tour guide, started by telling me about their Girl of the Year. 2020’s girl is Joss Kendrick – a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer. She joins American Girl’s lineup of inspirational characters who impart meaningful life lessons to help girls learn and grow with confidence. Whether she’s on her surfboard or in the gym, Joss shows girls the importance of trying new things, pushing past stereotypes, and being a good team player. This is the first girl that features a hearing aid that can easily be put over and in her ear and taken out.
The 18″ Truly Me doll has lifelike eyes that open and close smoothly, a soft cotton body, and a movable head and limbs made of smooth vinyl. You can choose eye, hair and skin color and buy outfits to make her anything that you aspire to be. She comes with a book called Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them. This interactive book helps girls learn how to make new friends and make the most of the friendships they have. It’s full of quizzes, crafts, advice, and true stories. Kimberly then showed me several bald dolls. My automatic response was that you get to choose your hairstyle. She said that they were for girls who either lost their hair during cancer treatment, had alopecia areata, or any other reason they had hair loss. At any time, whether it’s their hair growing back or they just want their girl to have hair, American Girl will give the doll the hair of the their choice – free of charge.
We continued walking around the store and reached Julie’s Groovy World. Ah, now I felt in my element. I grew up in the 70s and am still a 70s girl at heart. She has a Volkswagen, tie dyed clothing, beaded strands surrounding her bed. My favorite accessory is her pinball machine that really works. Trust me, I played with it for a long time!
The historical doll section was beautiful. There have been over 20 historical figures and accessories representing the years from 1774 and 1974. Their outfits, including fit, color and authenticity are a great way for your young girls to learn history in a fun way. At times these historical girls are retired and become much wanted collector’s items.
We continued walking around and first arrived at the Doll Hospital. If you have an American Girl doll you can take her to the hospital for a free full checkup. If something should be wrong there are casts, bandages, wheelchairs, crutches, etc. You and your doll get matching wrist bands. If anything needs to be fixed or replaced they may need to be admitted for repair.
At the Doll Hair Salon your doll and you can be pampered. You can have yours and your doll’s hair styled to match. There are many styles to choose from. Ear piercing is also an option. The child’s ear piercing is done by a licensed cosmetologist while the doll’s are pierced by a specially trained salon stylist. Nail art is also available for you, your doll or both. You can make it a spa day as well, a soft scrub on her face, arms and legs will have your doll feeling like new. And you get a special pampering kit to take home. The 18-inch dolls are for ages 8 and up.
The WellieWishers are a line of all-vinyl dolls released by American Girl in June 2016. The line is named after wellies, a term for Wellington boots/rubber rain boots that was popularized in the United Kingdom. At 15 inches they are designed for elementary-aged children five and up.
Bitty Baby is an infant of about one year in age that young children are “caring” for. The marketing of the line is similar to the way the Truly Me dolls are, in that Bitty dolls do not come with names and have varying clothing. They also have many available accessories such as a jogging stroller, rocking cradle, high chair, changing table and so much more. For ages 3 and up.
My tour ended with Kimberly taking me to visit the American Girl Cafe. It is a regular cafe but has booster seats and smaller dining utensils for your doll. Should you not have your own American Girl Doll you can borrow one of the many available with the booster seats to join you for lunch. KOSHER FOOD IS AVAILABLE FROM MY FAVORITE FOOD PLACE (OK supervision) BUT MUST BE ORDERED IN ADVANCE.
American Girl Place is not just dolls, it is something that every girl should experience. It is a store, a museum, a classroom and so much more.
Thank you Kimberly.
For further information go to their website www.AmericanGirl.com.
American Girl’s product lines include the following:
- Introduced in 1986, American Girl’s flagship historical line features 18-inch dolls, books, and accessories that teach girls ages 8 and up important lessons about our country’s history and the role of women and girls in shaping our country.
- American Girl magazine was introduced in 1992 and is the company’s very first contemporary offering that affirms self-esteem, celebrates achievements, and fosters creativity in today’s girls. The award-winning magazine ranks among the top ten children’s magazines in the nation and is the largest magazine dedicated exclusively to girls.
- In 1995, the company debuted a contemporary 18-inch doll line that has since evolved into Truly Me. The line encourages a girl to express, explore, and discover who she is right now—to find the confidence to be her true self.
- Bitty Baby, a line of huggable baby dolls, was also introduced in 1995 to help teach younger girls ages 3-6 important life skills like caring and nurturing.
- In 2001, American Girl introduced Girl of the Year, that gives voice to a diverse range of personalities and backgrounds through inspiring characters that offer girls a broader worldview and help teach acceptance.
- In 2016, the company launched WellieWishers, a line of 14 ½-inch character dolls, early chapter books, and accessories for girls ages 5-7 that teach kindness and empathy. The WellieWishers stories are further brought to life via an original animated series.
For over 30 years, American Girl has been a trusted partner for parents who want to raise their girls with confidence and character. Through the joy of play and the wonder of a great book, they help girls discover their sense of self with timeless stories and memorable characters who instill important values like honesty, courage, kindness, and compassion. These values help shape who our girls will become. Together with parents, they’re inspiring a new generation to write their own history and create the world we all want to live in.