My daughter is almost 8 years old and she is so much fun to around! Sure, her and her big brother bicker more than I like. And, yes she whines about minor paper cuts or when asked to go to bed. Oh and one more thing, she is so forgetful! It's kinda ridiculous. BUT....she is also an amazing spirited kid. She has the best imagination and I just love to see her play with her dolls and make all kinds of crafts from sewing clothes for her dolls to making pop-up greeting cards. She's such a girly girl too.
So, it came to no surprise that about a year ago or so, she began to show interest in American Girl dolls. Now, I was not about to spend that kind of money on a doll for her. It seemed way over priced. Honestly, I'm not big on buying my kiddos too many toys. I can't remember the last toy we bought them. I'm way more willing to spend money on taking them on fun adventures and experiences. That being said, when she came home with a D in writing on her progress report last year, Jason promised if she brought that D up to a B she would get her American Girl doll. Well, I gotta hand it to her. She put in the work and made huge progress. She came home at the end of the year with all A's and one B, yup in writing. We were all so proud of her and her grandparents who live in NY, knowing about the deal made with her, sent her the money for the doll as an end-of-the-year gift. She was beyond excited and we were beyond grateful!
When it came down to buying the doll, we considered just ordering it online since there isn't a store in Las Vegas, but it just didn't seem as fun. I knew they had a store in L.A. and since we'd be in California in September, we thought it would be a lot more fun to go to the actual store and make it part of an experience! There I go again with the "experiences" huh!
Elysse patiently waited the month or so before our trip and it was so worth it! I did my research and came up with a good strategy to make the best of our trip and not break the bank!
With her grandparents already contributing to the purchase of an actual doll, I knew we'd have to splurge a little on clothing and accessories. Jason and I came up with a budget and then I sat with her and we checked out the website and started thinking of which doll she'd like. If you've never seen the website, you should check it out. The accessories and clothes are insane! I got an idea of the things she liked and then it came down to deciding. Mind you, we did this at home and not in the store! I didn't give her an exact dollar amount, I just steered her in the general ball park. We decided we'd buy her doll 1 outfit, a pair of glasses (like hers), maybe a matching t-shirt or accessory for Elysse. Plus the one thing she absolutely had to have, which was a carrying case for her new doll.
When I was checking out American Girl website, I saw that they offered personal shoppers and that it was a totally free service. Well, I was totally up for that and made our appointment. Our personal shopper greeted us as we arrived to the store, gave us a tour of the store, along with a little history on the dolls and each of their stories. It was definitely a treat for us, especially since this was our first visit. This store is huge. It's about the size of a department store, think Macy's but only with doll stuff! Plus, it was just super nice to have someone helping Elysse choose her doll and not having to ask for assistance every time she wanted to see a doll or accessory. I also loved that she gave us time to shop without her, so there was no sales pressure! It turned out they were running a sales promotion on TrulyMe dolls, where you purchased 2 outfits and an accessory and received 20% off. So, in the end, she ended up with an additional doll outfit for her doll. She chose a fancy glittery outfit and a gymnastics outfit. Plus, matching glasses like hers and the coveted doll carrier. Once it was time to make the purchase, we didn't have to go to the check out, but rather we went into the personal shopper office and we sat in comfy couches, while she took care of ringing us up and throwing in a few goodies, like a poster and magazine, for us. I can definitely see the advantages of this on a busy weekend or during the holiday season.
The other big splurge was having lunch reservations at the cafe. Yes, there is even a cafe in the store. Elysse wanted to eat at on the balcony and it ended up we were the only ones outside. To be honest, there were only a handful of other tables filled during our lunch spot. I'm sue this was because it was a school day and it was also the later lunch slot. You should know it's not set up like a regular restaurant, but rather you can only make reservations for specific time slots and you choose from a few options in a pre-fix menu. You can also host private parties there. Once seated, the service was just ok. Nothing amazing. They did have a special seat for Ely's new doll, as well as a plate and cup for her to "eat". But that's all. Our food was not very tasty. Think over-priced theme park meals. The food was bland and not very appealing. Ely's fries were probably the best thing at the table. But, I suppose you pay for the experience. It was not something I would do again.
All and all, the American Girl shopping experience was a success! Elysse and I had some quality mother-daughter time. She absolutely loves her doll and takes her everywhere! It's super adorable to see her interact with Lilly. I really like the American Girl philosophy and how they work on empowering girls and encouraging them to enjoy girlhood by playing and using their imagination. They also have educational books, movies, crafts, and activities that help girls face various issues as they grow up.
Below is a summary of my tips if and when you take your own daughter, niece, granddaughter, friend. And, if you've been before and love it, please let me know that too! I'd love to hear any other tips you may have.
3 Tips for Enjoying Your Day at the American Girl Store
- Prepare a budget and set expectations before your visit. Unless you have an unlimited budget, this will be a lifesaver and especially a money saver! One could easily get carried away in that store :)
- Get a personal shopper. It's a free service and they'll will help guide you through the store. Plus, it's pretty cool to have that personalized service :)
- Skip the cafe. Unless your daughter really wants to go and you really want to make it a special occasion for her, I don't recommend it. As much as I want to say it was worth it, I just can't. The food is bland and sub-par. I would have much rather made a reservation at a nearby "fancy" restaurant and enjoyed my meal a lot more. I would suggest you do the same :)