Monday, December 15, 2014

American Girl Place and Experience Retail

The Magic of Going Broke

 Kit, why do you hate my wallet so much? I know you were poor during the Depression, but why does that mean I have to be?

I don't really live near an American Girl store. I currently live near Camp Lejeune in NC (also known as BFE. but honestly a lovely place to live) and I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. I lived there until I married my Marine, and then I moved to live near the base. The closest American Girl stores were in Miami and Atlanta, neither one of which is very close to Jacksonville.

Where I am now, the closest stores are in Charlotte, a good five hours away, and, again, Atlanta, two states away. We are at least two hours from civilization, and, therefore, a store like American Girl.

Therefore, an American Girl store trip is a real treat, not something that I get to do very often. I went to the Atlanta store once on the way to see my husband back when he was simply a fiance (or, as I like to say, to sound all fancy, a gentleman caller). When I heard that a new store was opening in Orlando, I was so happy. I still come to Jacksonville to see my family and now it wouldn't be that difficult to make a trip to the store. In fact, I went with my mom recently to buy my Christmas presents. I'm going to share some of my thoughts about the American Store shopping experience.

 Maybe you can't tell from my crappy photography, but this picture contains a clue as to what my Xmas present from my mom will be. Don't hurt your brain.

When I was growing up, there were no American Girl stores-you could buy from the catalogue or, later, you could buy from the website. Most of my shopping, assuming (and this is a big assumption) that I am buying brand new directly from the company, is done on the website. However, it is always more fun to buy from the store.

American Girl has become very skilled at what I call experience retail. You're not JUST shopping. Oh, no. No, you're having an experience, one that is an event. Shopping used to be an event that you got dressed up for. It was something to be excited about. Now, I am all for modern things like rights, but I sometimes wish that doing stuff like going to a restaurant or to the movies was still considered an event.

Julie in her pimp clothes. Just so you know, I love Julie but I hate all of her clothes by and large. It's not AG's fault-I hate the 70s style. Sorry.

At American Girl, you get that experience. You can have a personal shopper-I had one at Atlanta, though I choose not to use one at the Orlando store. You can eat in the restaurant with your purchase (aka the doll), you have plenty of photo opportunities like the elaborate Christmas tree in the store, and the products are displayed very nicely and intricately. It really is an event. The Lego stores and Build-a-Bear, from what I have seen, are also very good at creating an experience in addition to the product. I think this will probably protect these companies from losing buisness. After all, 18 inch dolls can be bought at Toys R Us, Target, and the United States of Walmart. However, none of those stores offer the same shopping experience that American Girl does. The same can be said of teddy bears.

I think this also adds to the aura of prestige the company hopes will surround the brand. Samantha costs about 4 times as much as a Target doll. Yes, she is better quality, but I have a hard time saying that she is worth 4 other dolls. People see American Girl as a luxury brand that they want to provide for their children. It's the same as a designer bag. That adds to the sense of occasion when someone makes a trek to the American Girl store.

The real girl trying to steal my money-Ms. Moneybags herself. What was I thinking, blaming Kit?

Now when I went to Atlanta, I had a great personal shopper and the place was empty. I had plenty of time to savor the experience of looking at the displays.  This time? It was in December, right before the holiday season. It was slammed. So crowded that my mom had a panic attack and had to walk out while I finished up my purchases.

 Isabelle was the girl of the hour. I believe she's back-ordered on the website so parents are running down to the store to buy her before Christmas and before she goes back into the vaults in all her boring glory and they release yet ANOTHER white doll. I better disgress on that before I lose my train-I'll talk about that in January.

 A sea of whiteness-the whiteness never ends. Like in a horror movie. About dolls. That's real UNIQUE.

 So what all was bought? Well, my husband gave me money to spend there as part of my Christmas present and I know he bought me Rebecca for Christmas. So I bought Kit's new reporter outfit, her reporter accessories, Rebecca's movie dress, Caroline's work dress, and Kaya's winter accessories.

Anyways, it'll probably be a while before I go back to any American Girl store since I return to North Carolina before Christmas and I have no idea when I'll be back. Here's some of the other pictures I took at the store.

I love this outfit with the bright, peppy colors! This is what I love most about the new BeForever collection.

 I tried not to look too much-after all, why get attached to something I'll probably never be able to afford? I failed.

Rebecca-the other doll that'll be under the tree. The tweed material is so nice-I had to touch lol. I love jewel tones on Rebecca.

Don't forget my girls Josefina and Addy-I wasn't really focusing on either this trip since I have SO much of their collections at this point.

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