When my daughter was 3 1/2 she received her first American Girl doll— Bitty Baby, the Asian version. Then came outfits with their accessories. Then came the Just Like You American Girl doll version, the kind where you choose your hair color, eye color and skin tone–Asian. Then when she was nine, we folded and bought Josephina, the Hispanic version. My daughter never asked for anything. It was me. I was hooked. For a brief while, I was the kid who could afford (barely) a bit of the fantasy that American Girl sent my way with each new catalog and as long as my daughter liked her dolls. . .and there was a birthday or Santa Claus.
Alas, childhood is short. My daughter’s interest in her dolls stopped at about age 11. No point in spending the money on those ever so clever outfits with accessories to match even if Josephina’s led us through watered down Hispanic culture of yesteryear through the books that matched the outfits and accessories, and I never got around to buying the Chinese New Year outfit for Just Like You Asian girl. By the time I found out about an American Girl store had opened in Manhattan, my daughter was into the eye rolling phase.
Although Asian girl and Josephina are perched high on a shelf in her bedroom, darling Bitty Baby is in the basement in a box with all her clothes–carefully packed but moved over to make room for other phases in life. The American Girl company is also making room for other things.
The live shows, The American Girls Revue that started in the Chicago store and then was added to the Los Angeles and Manhattan locations are stopping. The L.A. version will close on April 1. The NYC and Chicago versions will close September 1. There’s still some time to see the characters the dolls represent sing, dance and act out aspects of the lives from history the dolls represent. The stores are staying open, and I’m sure out there there are mothers and grandmothers pouring through catalogs savoring those days of childhood. [via Chicago Tribune]