Goodies I picked up at the American Girl store, Part 1

As I was editing all the pictures I took of the things I bought on my trip to AG Columbus, I decided that maybe I should divide this in to two parts.  I have a lot of things I want to mention (if you read regularly, you know I like to talk!) and I was just afraid it would make too long of a post if I didn’t.  So, this is part 1, I will put up part 2 in a day or so.

First off, I want to call attention to a couple of items that I didn’t have interest in buying, but really impressed me.  Addy’s Table and Chairs and Kit’s Desk are both really nice items, extremely well made with a wonderful attention to detail.  These are both things that you could buy with complete confidence in them holding up and having lots of play value.  Another thing that I liked was Jip the dog, in the photos AG has put out he looks kind of funny, way too fluffy or something.  He looks MUCH better in person, I actually thought about getting him.

Addy’s hair-wow!  I had never seen an Addy doll in person and I was just amazed at how accurate the texture is on her hair.  I have a friend who has a bi-racial daughter and I remember her talking about what an adjustment it was learning how to care for the hair because of the texture.  How they managed to duplicate it so well in a doll wig just confounds me.  In the large Addy display they had her with her hair completely down and straight so you could really see it.  I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of it!  If you’ve never seen an Addy doll in person you should check her out.  Her clothes are some of the nicest in the collection too.

The only item that I liked online that I thought was a huge disappointment was Julie’s snack set.  Blech.  It looks so cute online and in the catalog, but this is one of the few items that looks cheap.  Particularly the Jiffy pop piece, it not only looks like a big ole piece of plastic, but to me the proportions are off.  I grew up in the era of Jiffy pop and something just isn’t right.  One thing I definitely won’t be buying.  The little phone is cute as all get out though.

The two things that really impressed me the most were two outfits, I give these A++++ because both are simply stunning.  I never gave these a second look before, but in person I was wowed.  The first is the glittery outfit that comes with Rebecca’s costume set.  Unfortunately this only comes as a set, but if you are even slightly interested in the chest but haven’t bought it because you don’t like the outfit, you might want to reconsider!  This is one of the prettiest outfits in the whole Rebecca collection, online it looks blah.  The other outfit that impressed me is Kaya’s Deerskin outfit, this is sooooo well done, I can’t even come up with words to describe it.  The faux leather looks just like the real thing and the whole thing is beautifully done from top to bottom.  They had it on a doll by itself and also with the Winter Accessories and they were both super.

One last thing before I show you the first installment of goodies-Samantha’s new outfits.  Overall they are really pretty and seem to be very nicely made.  Only one issue and to me this is a major one, and you don’t notice it in the AG pics.  Some of her dresses are too short for the time period!  This really shocked me because AG does generally do a good job with this kind of stuff, but this is a bit of a fail in my book.  Particularly for this era, modesty was the name of the game when it came to clothing and dresses, even day to day wear was longer.  Not floor length, but not mini skirts either.

When I first found out I might be going to the AG store, I started working on a list of things that I wanted to look at and might consider buying.  I had some dolls I wanted to see in particular and also some of the accessories and furniture.  I had them prioritized in my head too as far as “definitely would like to get”, “want to see/might like to get” and “want to see/will wait for later”.  This worked pretty well for the most part!

So to start–the “definitely would like to get”.  I’ve had my eye on this set for a while and since it’s been out a few years, I decided that if I liked it I would go ahead and get it instead of order it for fear it might sell out or they would discontinue it.

AG Goodies 1
Julie’s Sound Accessories

This set is so cute, it takes me back to when I was growing up, I remember having a record player and a tape recorder that were similar. I tested it out yesterday, so cool, you should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I played back what I recorded on the tape recorder! I think this is a nice set and really a very good deal for the price, I hope it holds up.  If you would like to see these in action, there is a good You Tube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOIeJfIA8Sc    So cute, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly how that darned record player knows which record it is!

On to the “want to see/might like to get”:

AG Goodies 2
Rebecca trying out the School Desk Set
AG Goodies 3
“I LOVE IT!”

 

I had seen this set online and really liked it, but wasn’t 100% sure about it, I really wanted to see it in person.  It’s also something that has been out a little while and I decided to go ahead and get it.  I love how well it is made and the accessories that come with it:

AG Goodies 4 AG Goodies 5 AG Goodies 6 AG Goodies 7

The details on this set are phenomenal, from the little wire rack under the desk to the book, folder and pencil case.  I do think they should at least include a pencil and an eraser for the pencil case though, seems kind of lost without it.  Unfortunately the pencils I made are too long for it, so I guess that just means I need to make some more!  In the reviews on the website someone was complaining about how hard it is to get the dolls to sit right in it and they wont’ stay–I don’t know what in the world they are talking about, I put Rebecca in it to take the photos and when I was done, carried it down the hall with her in it and set it on the floor–it’s been hours ago and she’s still sitting exactly where I put her.  The desk swivels away too, making it super easy to put the doll in, then you just swivel it back to the right position.  I remember when I first looked at this set thinking maybe it was a bit pricey, but now that I have it, I have totally changed my mind.  This would be a great gift item!

And lastly, the item I wanted to look at, but wanted to wait on:

AG Goodies 8
It’s COCONUT!!!
AG Goodies 9
“Yes, I am the world’s cutest dog!!!”

I just have to say that I have thought Coconut was the cutest thing ever since they came out with the very first one. The only problem is I was a little spoiled, I not only collect a lot of plush but I also have the first husky dog they came out with many years ago. The first versions of Coconut had some issues that I couldn’t deal with, she put me in mind of a blob, not a dog. But when they redid Coconut this past summer, I was like “OMG MUST HAVE”. I wanted to wait because I really did want to concentrate on things that might be discontinued. However, it was love at first sight when I saw her in the case and all common sense went flying out the window. Now the trick will be keeping her away from my real dog, she thinks anything stuffed is for her, but I put Coconut in the “bedroom” with the girls and so far she’s left her alone.

Some of the other things I looked at but decided to wait on were Kit’s typewriter, the Guitar set, and Kit and Rebecca’s new meet outfits.  I am going to try and order the meet outfits before the holidays as well as Julie’s old one since no one is saying anything on how long these are going to be available.  My credit card needs to recover first though 🙂  I will get Kit’s typewriter and the Guitar set after the new year sometime, I’m not in a huge hurry on either of these and I hardly think they are going to retire that typewriter anytime soon since they just came out with it again.  Sue told me that it was the one thing she was most happy about them bringing back with the BeForever launch, she said you wouldn’t believe how many times she’d been asked about it.  I can see why, it is super cute!

As for the dolls I looked at, I had 6 I wanted to see in person. Right off the bat I eliminated two, two were on the bubble and the other two I really liked, but they are almost identical, just different hair length. I held off on buying a doll because a)I knew I’d already spent more than I had planned b)I kind of wanted to wait until the new doll of the year comes out and c)another reason I’ll tell you about later this week. Hee hee hee!!!

Stay tuned for part 2–all of the store exclusives/souvenirs I picked up 🙂

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My Trip to American Girl Place, Columbus

Yesterday my husband and I went to Columbus, Ohio so I could check out the American Girl store there.  It is located in Easton Town Center, a unique shopping mall built to look like a self contained “town” with some very unique and high end stores.   American Girl Place opened there in 2013, the first AG store (and currently still the only one) in Ohio!  We got up bright and early since we had an almost 3 hour drive there, arrived just 15 minutes before the store opened.  Just enough time to run to the restroom and take some photos outside.  (FYI, the bathroom is very close, a good thing for parents to know about 😉 )

Here is the front of the store, a typical AG store front.
AG Place 1

Before I get to the “serious” business, a couple of things that I think are important. Because of the way this mall is set up, there are not only parking lots and garages that are free, but in some areas there are “streets” and they have parking meters. To me it was worth being able to park right in front of the store, it was only $1.50 for just over an hour (more than enough time for me to do some damage to the credit card!) and so worth it to be able to just walk out, open the door of my car and put my goodies in. They do ask that you use the metered parking for short trips not exceeding 90 minutes which makes complete sense. The money from these meters goes to a local organization too, so you are technically making a donation to a worthwhile cause. A win all directions! We were there early enough to get the spot right in front of the store, my husband was technically “working” so he waited in the car and did just that while I shopped. We were both happy.  He said he made some faces at me but I didn’t see him, what a goofball!

Here are some pictures I took through the store windows-they aren’t the greatest because I’m taking them through not one but two layers of glass in some cases, but this was the only way I could get pictures of these displays as they are so close to the windows, once you are in the store you can’t get them.
AG Place 2 Julie’s car-this is beyond cute!
AG Place 3
Rebecca’s bed, also very cute!
AG Place 4
And Josephina’s bed!

I had arranged to have a personal shopper and since I had the first appointment of the day, no waiting. I was met by Sue, she was terrific. We had a fun time as she guided me through the different sections. She was a few years older than me, so we had a nice “reminisce” by the Julie display, we both remembered having clothing items like those in her collection. We also discussed some of the criticism on some of the new outfits (both thinking that most of it was nit-picking) as well as what was selling well. She said that overall the BeForever launch was doing well and that they hoped as the holiday season approached, more and more people would see it and fall in love with it. I did try to find out if the meet outfits being sold separately was something that was short or long term and she said that corporate was keeping that very closely guarded and that they didn’t even know in store-argh! She was surprised when I told her that this past week I noticed that the old outfits were now available individually on the website, she said she would have to check it out. (Did anyone else notice that? I was shocked but excited.)

I also asked her if anything had been said about making another doll from the Marie-Grace mold and she said that there hadn’t been anything mentioned, but she agreed that she was such a pretty doll and it would be a shame if they didn’t. I also learned something about Bitty Baby that I wasn’t aware of: Bitty Baby sold singly is geared as a “first doll” for toddlers, that’s why the hair is molded. Then as the child gets older, Bitty Twins are geared for them since they have hair, but not as much hair as the American Girl dolls, making it easy for them to care for and a nice transition. I thought that was very interesting! She said that she has heard about a lot of Bitty Baby dolls being given as baby shower gifts, hmmm…

After about 45 minutes we had gone through the majority of the store.  The Columbus store is a smaller scale store, but does offer all the services that the other stores do.  Sue told me that the biggest difference is they don’t have a display of all of the dolls of the year like the larger stores and they have fewer displays overall-you could have fooled me!  The bistro is very small but it does have the extra room for birthday parties.  Because of it’s small size though, I would definitely make a reservation in advance as I can see where it would fill up very quickly.  They also have a hair salon, there were several “clients” there while I was shopping.

At this point I was left to my own devices, so I decided to take some photos first and then do my shopping.  I really concentrated on a couple of my favorite thing as well as a couple of things that I felt fall flat in the catalog and online.  Without further ado:

AG Place 5
Here is Kit’s large display. I had to take a picture of this because (I’ve never admitted this on the blog before) Kit is my favorite of all the dolls. I didn’t get her new meet outfit on this trip, but I am definitely going to order it before the year is out, it is just adorable. She has had a slight haircut this time around, but not a ton. I deliberately checked that out because my sister fell in love with my Kit doll when she was here visiting and was thinking about getting her, but we wanted to be sure she hadn’t changed too much in looks.

AG Place 6
Samantha’s ice cream shop. This set is really very nice and one of those ones that the catalog/website doesn’t do justice to. It’s really much nicer in person. One advantage of having a personal shopper was her pointing out some of the pieces and just how well made they are, she had me pick up the little cash register, it’s all metal and really heavy! She said that response to this set has been phenomenal.

AG Place 7
Caroline and the Table and Treats set along with the parlor. Once again I picked up the tiered tray with the food on it and was very impressed with how sturdy it is. To those who have been criticizing the newer items and that they are cheaply made-you don’t know what you are talking about. I was excited to see the parlor set up close too, it is very nice in person, if it’s something you have been considering but wasn’t sure about, let me just say it’s really very well made and thought out.

AG Place 8
And of course, another shot of Julie and her car!!! Sue showed me how the radio button pushes in and makes a car engine sound and then the radio “plays”, just too cute for words. I would LOVE to have this, still thinking on it. I probably should hurry too as I have a feeling this is one of the things on it’s way out. I just haven’t figured out how to justify the price, plus trying to store it could be a bit of a hassle, although not any worse than the sled I have 😉

All of the historical items are at the front of the Columbus store with the MAG stuff in the back portion. There is also another entrance in the back of the store which is convenient if you are going to the bistro first before shopping. Overall the store is nicely laid out and in my honest opinion, just the perfect size.

Some more photos of some of the MAG stuff:
AG Place 9
This was one of the few displays that wasn’t behind glass so you could get a really good look at it. Sue told me that this set was also very popular with both children and collectors and I can see why. It is not only really well done, but it has a ton of little pieces with it that would allow for a lot of different play options. Because of this, I am giving this set my “A+” and “#1” of all the more expensive playsets. If I had a kid who was looking at several different ones, I would more than likely buy this first.

AG Place 10
Here is some back to school stuff. The accessories for the locker are really well thought out, but the locker-what the heck? Is it just me or does it seem too short? I don’t remember school lockers being that little in proportion to the kids. For this reason I don’t think I would buy this.

AG Place 11
I thought all of this display was cute and well thought out.  In this photo you can see the rear entrance to the store and the Bitty Baby section just off to the right.  I think the layout of the store is very good with something to see at every turn!

Of course, I had to include pictures of the musical displays. I was involved in our music department just about the entire time I was in school and helped a little even after I graduated, so I have a bit of a soft spot for these items. The guitar is really nice, one of the things I have on my list for later.
AG Place 12

AG Place 13

AG Place 14

Overall I had a great time and I am looking forward to going back. The employees are fantastic too, from the moment I got there to when I left, they all had big smiles on their faces and couldn’t have been more helpful, but not pushy. When I went to check out I was waited on by Jennifer, she was terrific. There was a little set of shoes I had noticed on some of the dolls in the store exclusive area, so I asked her about them and she told me about them and when I said I’d like to have them she went and got them for me instead of me having to go find them. Now that’s service! I was also impressed with another of the personal shoppers, she was working with a family there who were getting a first doll, she was sitting on the floor with the little girl while she decided which doll she liked, they had the box opened and she was really studying them while the personal shopper pointed out different things. I probably wouldn’t use the personal shopper service in store again since I have already done it and I’m familiar enough with the line and the store, but I think it’s a terrific service for those who are there for a first visit, a first doll or a grandparent or other family member who is looking for a gift who may not be as familiar with their products. Now if they would just open a store in the Pittsburgh area, pretty please?!?!?!?!

I will share with you my purchases in a few days, I got several store exclusives that I just love as well as a couple of catalog items I had on my list.

Doll Sized Find from Staples!

I saw this item on several other blogs, so I decided to go looking for it online (I was feeling lazy). I was so excited when I found it because I love school related items.
Binder 1
It is the perfect scale for 18 inch dolls and better yet, comes with 100 sheets of paper too! I found it at Staples.com and it was only $1.99. I am very impressed with how it is made, where the black shows is a rubberized material so when you open it up, it lays flat and stays that way.
Binder 2
I couldn’t find them on any other office supply website so I am thinking that this must have been an item made exclusively for them. The Staples name is embossed in the back cover too.
Binder 3
It also indicated on the website that they didn’t have them in our local store, BUT (this is the best part) they could be shipped to my local Staples store at no charge and I could go pick them up when they got there. Gotta love a free shipping deal 🙂 I ordered three of them, two in blue and one all black.  Those were they only colors they had at the moment, I do think they came in other colors at one time though.  Being “back to school” season may have depleted some of the brighter colors.  I love that the front has a vinyl “window” like a standard size binder does, I can personalize them with scrapbook paper, photos, whatever!

Binder 4
Marie-Grace was so excited about her new binder, she immediately sat down and started working on her homework.  If you decide to look for these on the Staples website, they are under “micro binder”.  I think it’s one of my better doll sized finds.

Did you find anything good this week? I am off to AG Place in Columbus this weekend, I am so excited! I will be sure to share some pics next week. Keeping my fingers crossed that they still have a couple of the store exclusive items that I would really like to have.