In addition to my daughters Carleigh and Jillian, my house is also home to Julie, Elizabeth, Kanani, McKenna and Amber. They go everywhere with us, have semi-regular trips to the hair salon and, on some occasions, have a better wardrobe than I do.
They are our American Girl dolls and even though they are an expensive hobby of sorts for my children, they are worth every penny (many pennies they save on their own too), because they allow my girls to stay kids, play with dolls, learn some history lessons and use their imaginations.
“We want girls to enjoy girlhood as long as possible. There is so much coming at them and we try to keep them kids."
So, you can imagine the sheer glee and excitement when news broke about the new Houston-area American Girl store location in Memorial City Mall. Doors officially open Saturday, with a ribbon cutting at 8:50 a.m. with free entertainment outside the store and free craft activities all weekend.
The new 16,000-square-foot store is a wonderland awash in pink and purple, complete with the Doll Hair Salon, Creativi-tees boutique, The Bistro and dolls, doll clothes, doll accessories and doll furniture.
It’s the second location in Texas (Dallas is home to a two-story location) and it is an opening whose time had come.
“Texas is big enough to handle two stores and Houston is a good spot for us to open,” American Girl public relations director Julie Parks says.
American Girl originally began in 1998 as a direct mail company, allowing the company to track its fan base. Chicago, New York and Los Angeles were the first three stores to open and Parks says the company took the leap into brick-and-mortar so girls could have the opportunity to feel and see the dolls up close.
Another mid-size store similar to the Houston location opens in Miami in two weeks. It pushes the number of stores to 14, but Parks says there aren’t plans to saturate the country with stores in order to keep the experience special.
American Girl targets children between the ages of eight and 12, with a range of options including Bitty Baby, Bitty Twins, historical dolls and the My American Girl dolls. Historical dolls mix adventure with actual events (The Great Depression, The Civil War, the 1970s) and the My American Girl dolls allow girls to find a doll that looks similar to themselves.
“We want girls to enjoy girlhood as long as possible. There is so much coming at them and we try to keep them kids, teaching them history and about things like friendship and courage,” Parks says. “Why rush it?”
As with all American Girl stores, the Houston location will host monthly events like themed crafts, cooking, scavenger hunts, hairstyling tips and author meet-and-greets. The stores update the event calendar regularly. Reservations are often required.