An American Girl Experience and An AG Give Away

AUTHOR: | POSTED: April 30, 2013 | COMMENTS: 15 Comments
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Focusing on The Joy,

Carolyn Savage

MK has an American Girl doll.

She received it for her 5th birthday as a gift from her grandmas and she’s been smitten ever since.  Kit Kittredge has accompanied our family on a number of outings including the park, church, the grocery store, ballet class, swimming lessons and most recently on our trip to Chicago.  Seeing as how Kit has become such an integral part of our family, it seemed fitting that we take time to visit “her people” at the  American Girl store on Michigan Avenue.

Mary Kate met Kit Kittredge, American Girl, on her 5th birthday compliments of Grandma Kate, Grandma Linda and Papa.  They are inseparable.

Mary Kate met Kit Kittredge, American Girl, on her 5th birthday compliments of Grandma Kate, Grandma Linda and Papa. They are inseparable.

I know, I know…twist my arm.  A day on Michigan Avenue.  It’s a tough life.

Anyways, if you are a regular reader her, you know I’m a down-to-Earth kind of mom.  It’s not that I don’t love the finer things in life, but extravagances, to me, taste sweeter when experienced as the result of a “deal”.  Show me a Pottery Barn inspired nursery, I’ll knock off something just as cute but purchased from a second-hand store.  I’m practical like that.  Plus…I’m married to a financial planner.  I know the value of the dollar.

That being said, I as I entered the AG store I thought I’d armored myself with a good dose of synicism and healthy shot of self control.  What I didn’t know was that the American Girl marketing people saw me coming from a mile away.  As a result, somewhere between the front door and the coat check, I was sucked into the  vortex of American Girl doll insanity.


What was the first sign of trouble?  I’m not exactly sure but I think I knew I was in deep when I found myself making an appointment for Kit at the AG doll salon.  Yes, folks.  There’s a salon.  Complete with spa treatments for your doll, including but not limited to up-doos, body scrubs (for your doll, people.  Stick with me here), and doll enhancement procedures.  Kit now has her ears pierced and owns six sets of earrings.

Um…I don’t even own six pairs of earrings.  Like I said…I was in over my head.


Kit at the salon.

Kit at the salon.

I draw the line here.  Ain't nobody getting a body scrub but me.

I draw the line here. Ain’t nobody getting a body scrub but me.

Kit getting pampered.

Kit getting pampered.

Honestly I think it’s quite possible the AG people slipped me a ‘mickey’ at the enchanted luncheon in the American Girl doll restaurant.  I’m not sure if it was in the $22 a head four course luncheon, or the ala-carte $8 Mimosa that seemed to delicious to pass up.   Somewhere during that meal, I lost what was left of my mind.  Next thing you know Mary Kate and I were grabbing doll outfits and accessories that suddenly became ‘must-haves’.  Even my own mother got caught up in the madness.  As a result, Kit now owns a ballet outfit that costs more than the get-up Mary Kate actually wears to real-live-little-girl ballet class.

They bring high chairs to the table for each doll.  Love it.

They bring high chairs to the table for each doll. Love it.

Mary Kate with her Aunt Jenny at the American Girl lunch.

Mary Kate with her Aunt Jenny at the American Girl lunch.

Dessert!  Adorable.

Dessert! Adorable.

The funny thing was while this craziness was playing out, little lucid moments of “Holy crap! Get the hell out of here before your husband divorces you for spending your daughter’s college fund in a doll store” were happening.  It was then that I’d whisper to my mom, “we are going straight to hell for this” .  Unfortunately, the part of my brain that understood how sinful it was to spend $30 on an outfit for a doll couldn’t seem to connect with the temporarily more dominant part of my brain that was enthusiastically justifying the splurge.  I think I may or may not have actually had a conversation with a complete and utter stranger about how  “you just can’t beat the quality of the AG clothes“.  It was another mom who was glazed over with the same look of insanity.  She was in as deep as I was.  It was oddly comforting to know I wasn’t alone in my mania.

Mary Kate and her second cousin, Eden in the Bitty Baby part of the store.

Mary Kate and her second cousin, Eden in the Bitty Baby part of the store.

MK with Grandma Linda at the AG store in front of of the $350 VW bug convertible.

MK with Grandma Linda at the AG store in front of the VW bug convertible.  See below for price tag!

Eventually, I did get a hold of myself when I inquired about the car.  A convertible Volkswagon Bug could be Kit’s for a cool $350.  “That’s insane” I mumbled  as I balanced the plethora of crap MK had piled into my shopping bag.  It was then that we re-evaluated our needs and many things were redistributed back to their shelves.  MK was happy to choose two items, and the rest was put on her mental wish list for future occasions.  I was actually proud of my little girl for being so reasonable.

That’s when it hit me.

As expensive as the American Girl merchandise is, the tone of their message has definitely resonated with my girl. You see, Kit came with a book about her life.  Ironically she lived in 1934, and her family had to make many sacrifices as a result of the Great Depression.  I’d been reading Kit’s story to Mary Kate each night before bed.  The lessons of selflessness, frugalness and creative ways to make ends meet were making a mark on my impressionable young daughter.  As I’ve researched the entire concept of American Girl, I’m realizing what a gift their brand is for girls.  Their products are wholesome.  They promote reading and teach about kindness.  There’s no provocatively dressed dolls peddling hoochie-mama innuendos at American Girl.  Instead there’s a celebration of diversity sandwiched in between a message about female empowerment.


I love that.

Reflecting on our day in the American Girl store, I realize that what I didn’t understand prior to our visit is that the AG store is an experience.  It’s about browsing through the dolls.  Learning their stories. Peaking the interest of young minds about the historical periods.  Yes, we left with a few treats, and that was definitely a splurge, but what the AG store really provided for me was an opportunity to partake in a special afternoon with my daughter.


That is something I treasure.

I can’t wait to go back.


Since our trip and my reconnection with my practical-self, I’ve looked into some more affordable options regarding American Girl products.  Below you’ll find some tips about the best ways to find previously loved AG dolls and accessories.  I also found some valuable tutorials about refurbishing AG dolls that have been loved a little too much.  In addition, there are some links below as to where you can buy replicas of American Girl type-dolls that are more affordable along with some links to online crafters who make beautiful but less expensive AG doll clothes.


1.  For some tips as to how best to purchase a used AG doll read this article here.

2.  For some great video tutorials on how to care for AG doll hair click here and here and here.

3.  Here’s a great forum discussion on which AG replica dolls are of the best quality.

4.  A great article on some wonderful online homemade doll clothes for AG type dolls is here.  

5.  Of course, AG-type doll clothes can be purchased at Target, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Toys-R-Us, Avon and Costco.


It looks like American Girl is becoming a more accessible for us Ohioans.  They are opening a store at Easton Town Center  in Columbus on June 22, 2013.  In honor of their opening and everything American Girl stands for is giving away a $50 gift card to American Girl.  To qualify, you must leave a comment about your favorite American girl doll and why her story is so special.  One comment will be chosen on Wednesday, May 8th for the gift card giveaway!  Happy commenting!

15 Comments on “ An American Girl Experience and An AG Give Away ”

  • Kristin | April 30th, 2013 11:56 pm

    I’ve always loved the whole American Girl concept but, with just boy children in the house, I never got to indulge.

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  • Karen Burnard | May 1st, 2013 8:23 am

    I have 3 daughters and 7 American Girl dolls. I jokinly asked our accountant if I could claim the dolls as dependents on our taxes!! My girls have enjoyed playing with them, reading their stories and bringing them everywhere we go. In a world where little girls grow up entirely too quickly, it always warms my heart to see them play with the dolls. I am a fan of AG, their dolls and the messages they send through their books and products.
    Can’t wait until the opening in Columbus!!

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  • Carolyn Savage | May 1st, 2013 9:23 am

    “Dependents on your taxes.” Hilarious!

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  • Julie | May 1st, 2013 8:42 am

    I have 2 girls who love their AG dolls! We had a similar experience visiting Chicago! Just yesterday we received a catalog highlighting the opening in Columbus -they can’t wait! For my oldest who has a look-a-like, I love being able to buy the outfits and accessories which correspond to her interests. Morgan wears both a basketball and soccer uniform and has her own guitar to play just like my daughter. For my youngest, she treasures her Elizabeth (which is her middle name). She now has Caroline as well. We love to read their stories which I hope inspire her to be courageous, independent and brave as well as to be kind and a friend to others.

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  • Karen Auge | May 1st, 2013 8:46 am

    Great article Carolyn, and totally agree with your entire assessment. First time I almost got suckered, but then decided if my girls wanted a doll they would want it in a year. We dide off brand dolls, and finally I decided it was time…Quality is definitely first rate. The girls had to save up for 1/2 the doll and an outfit. That is when I know it is a good purchase. AG store is a rite of passage!

    My favorite is Kaya – the Native American doll. I love that she a unique doll. And her stories are filled with her relationship with nature and animals. Not to mention my blond haired daughter was drawn to her, which makes it unique as well!

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  • Carolyn Savage | May 1st, 2013 9:24 am

    I wondered about Kaya’s story! She was a secret favorite of mine because her story seemed so unique. Thanks for sharing this!

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  • Kristine Herr | May 1st, 2013 8:56 am

    If by chance we are lucky enough to win your drawing we’ll be donating the AGD this Christmas. I have 3 boys and 2 of them (age 5) are all about Barbie, Lalaloopsy, mermaids and other such pink glittery things. They would be thrilled to donate her to a girl in need at their school.

    (I also knit matching hats for girls and their AGD!)

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  • Cari Murphy | May 1st, 2013 9:03 am

    My girls are American Girl fans too! They love the Kitt Kitridge movie. She is a very determined girl which is a great trait for anyone. My older daughter also had to learn restraint and be willing to pass her Bitty Baby to her little sis in order to get a look a like doll.

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  • Nicole Cassidy | May 1st, 2013 9:16 am

    Molly is my favorite because she never gives up, loves her family and country and a born leader.

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  • Caroline | May 1st, 2013 11:00 am

    I must confess I have two- Samantha and Felicity. I own them both from when I was a girl and carefully packed them away when I got married. My little girl is now 3 and I cant wait to share them with her. I have always wanted to visit the original store in Chicago as well- I hope I can have such a fun afternoon with my daughter someday!

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  • Keiko | May 1st, 2013 11:08 pm

    Oh how I love American Girl – I grew up with the books and dolls. I’m so sad to learn that my favorites: Samantha, Felicity and Kirsten – have all been retired. For whatever reason, I was always most drawn to Samantha and Molly. Both of them had these feisty fighters’ spirits where they just really seemed to rebel at the world around them, Samantha especially so. I think I loved Molly as much as I did because I just loved all of her outfits and decor – totally material love there 😉

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  • Mary V | May 2nd, 2013 11:05 am

    Oh this was a great post Carolyn! I can sooo relate! My daughter, at age 32, still loves shopping at the AG store although she rarely buys anything for her doll (Molly) any more. But if money was no object, I’m sure she would! Don’t include me in the drawing – I just wanted to comment and let you know how much I enjoyed this post 🙂

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  • Becca | May 2nd, 2013 8:26 pm

    I love a lot of the American Girl dolls. My favorites are Molly and Emily. I think Molly’s story is special because it tells girls about World War Two and the country’s support for it. It shows girls how to be courageous when loved ones are away and tells girls to help those who have lost someone close to them. (I just learned about World War Two in school and I learned how people like Molly helped in the war effort.) I think Emily’s story is special because it shows how children like Emily had to be strong and courageous and flee to the U.S. to be safe from the destruction of World War Two. Molly and Emily just become best of friends (Which I LOVE!)and they go through this tough time together. When girls get a little older, (Like me.) they can learn about World War Two and realize that American Girl has given them the first step of learning about America’s history and love history like how I do!! This is one of the good reasons that I love American Girl. They encourage reading and learning about history and make girls love it while they’re having fun with the dolls and accessories. Molly and Emily’s story is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES!! That is why Molly and Emily are my favorite American Girl dolls and why they’re stories are so special.
    And I CAN’T WAIT for the grand opening in Columbus as well!! I plan on getting my FIRST American Girl doll there if my mom will take me!! (I would get a My American Girl doll to look like me.) 🙂

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  • Carmen Van Deursen | May 4th, 2013 9:03 am

    My daughter and I have read some of these wonderful stories and she thinks Addy has the most interesting stories. Her bravery and difficult situations made my daughter appreciate and respect others and see them for who they are and not just the color of their skin. She thinks this doll is lovely.

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  • Nicole Vosburgh | May 6th, 2013 10:28 pm

    My favorite doll growing up was/is Kirsten. I loved her mostly because she had the same name as my sister and I thought that was pretty cool. I can’t wait until the day that I have a little girl to pass her along to.

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