Let’s play a game.
Can you guess where you might be able to regularly hear the following mother to daughter snippets of conversation?
“Don’t forget your doll’s salon appointment is in 10 minutes”
“Oh, look they are retiring this, we should buy two tiny resin sandwich platters, in case your doll has a party.”
“Do you want to get your dolls ears pierced?”
“Make a decision so we can get out of this place, we have been in here two hours”.
If you guessed, The American Girl Doll Store, ding, ding, ding, you WIN! (the last comment was mine)
For those of you that aren’t the parents of young girls, American Girl is a line of dolls designed for girls that each represents a specific time in history. They each have a series of books based on their life. The dolls are nontraditional in that they are actual little girls (around 10) rather than the typical BABY dolls or va-va-va-boom adult Barbie-type dolls.
These dolls are not inexpensive. They are roughly $100 each. Even used, they seem to hold their value, selling for around $80-90 on Ebay.
American Girl dolls are actually manufactured in China (this according to the internet buzz, and The View TV show, all very reliable sources, I’m sure.) I guess they were originally manufactured by the Pleasant Toy Company in Middleton, WI, but in 1998 Mattel bought them out and, well, the rest is overseas manufacturing history…although maybe since they were born in China, they hold duel citizenship.
But still, I think it’s a little deceitful to call them American Girl Dolls. Maybe Mattel figured they’d lose market share if they changed the name to Chinese-American Girl Dolls.
We’ve been in one of those AG stores roughly four times and each visit cost hundreds of dollars (with the exception of the visit during The Simple Year, in which it cost Grandma that much, I cannot claim any responsibility for that visit) When you walk in these stores, it is hard to believe there is any kind of economic downturn as it is teeming with wild eyed grandmothers and daughters flinging their credit cards at the cashiers.
The girls have an older cousin who actually WORKED at the store in Chicago. To my children, she was a ROCK STAR.
This same cousin, generously gave my kids her old AG Dolls and AG Doll accessories. Many of the clothes she gave them were made by my grandmother in the early 90’s which makes me nostalgic and teary. The dolls, which were great, did bear the scars of having been well loved by a creative type. She used them as a sort of artistic canvas and had given them fabulous haircuts..
They were fine, just the way they were. But, American Girl has a “fix it” option, The Doll Hospital. I’ll be honest, I would be spectacularly annoyed at the digression from sweet quasi-educational toys to this behemoth vortex of conspicuous consumption. But, since they actually stand by their product for the long haul and have a repair set up instead of expecting you to “trade up”, I am going to cut them some slack. I’m sure those executives at Mattel are relieved.
Checking into The Doll Hospital
I downloaded the appropriate forms and had to check the appropriate box with which services our dolls required.
- $54 for a new head : Yeah, it says that right on the order form–new head, but apparently you have to give them the old head as well, you can’t just send them a decapitated doll. That is specified, which makes me wonder how many times people tried that before they had to actually document the “no headless doll” rule.
- $28 for new eyes
They also do things like replace limbs , apparently mauling by the family pet is not uncommon. Each doll sent in also gets an additional touch up.
So, we packed Kirsten and Katie and sent them away.
Three weeks, later here is how they returned.
It cost $54 for me to get the old dolls overhauled. I expected it to be more, but they deemed that some of the repairs were the responsibility of AG? It was so worth the time and effort. I have the satisfaction of knowing these were the pre-Mattel era dolls and manufactured completely lead free in the Good Ole U, S of A. Plus they were previously loved by our cousin and that makes them even more special. We’ll call it an heirloom and perhaps one day my girls will have a younger relative that will be sending their dolls to the hospital.