I remeber anxiously awaiting the mail so that I could peel through every inch of every page of my new “The Pleasant Company” catalogue. Growing up in a small town where Wal-Mart and Kroger are the staples, you can imagine my excitement at the beautiful, glossy doll catalogue. I remember the summer my neighbor and I decided to save money for our own dolls—at the time, a whopping $82 dollars. That was going to be a challenge, saving up more money than a 7 yr old can imagine. I remember the endless southern summer days risking it in the hot sun to sell lemonade at 10 cents a cup to the visitors of my neighbors family machine shop. Then popcicles, and we even tried to make freshly sqeezed grape juice (it’s bitter for those of you looking to try). Slowly but surely we made our way to our goal, coming into the homestretch with a $50 donation from our parents who noticed our hard work and dedication. And then the glorious day that my Addy arrived. All shiny and new in her red box with the big white star. She was beautiful. And perfect. Every little girls dream, what more could I ever ask for?…
And then this weekend I took my five year old neice to the American Girl Place on 5th ave in NYC and I realized that I sincerely got jipped. As a marketer, I cannot explain the brilliance that is American Girl. Not only do they still dedicate a seasonaly print cataloge, complete with the new ‘just like me dolls,’ but they have built and empire that every little girl can only imagine. We started our day with a brunch in the cafe. I am here to tell you, it was outrageous. They usher you to your table, where they introduce themselves to your doll and even give you a booster seat so that your doll can sit at the table with you. They greet you with warm cinniman rolls, and a fruit and cheese platter. And the ever-famous pink lemonade (not quite 10 cents a cup there). Your doll even gets it’s own plate setting. The food, I admit I was concerned for my grown up appetite, is actually quite yummy. And is presented in such an adorable way—my neice was served ‘bitty bites’ complete with mini hamburger and hotdog, and heat and star shaped fruit! The dessert platter was too much even for my sweet tooth, containing 3 dessert choices! And of course, the decor is adorable and girly with pink and black and flowers galore.
After dining, we headed down to the salon to get my neice’s doll’s hair fixed and her ears pierced (yes, you read that correctly). During the 1 hour and a half wait, we shopped. This is where the trap comes in. Every outfit is modeled by a doll, and is on every single corner. How can you possibly say no? My neice was so overwhelmed with choices and excitement that I knew we were doomed. Luckily, we were able to narrow the process and walked away with only a new doll (as a friend and companion for the current) and about 7 outfits. That sounds like a lot, but trust me, if you could see this store you would understand. Then back to the salon for a hair special! The doll is placed in a salon chair, and a robe is draped. Then you get a lesson on how to properly care for your doll (alway wet the hair, brush from the bottom up, no water in the eyes, etc)…and made to look like new.
And then you can exit the store, and crowds, into the New York air…just make sure you bring a back brace to hold all your merchandise. Kudos to the brains behind the marketing, you sold straight to my heart and make a true marketer proud. I must say, the store experience made me jealous that I wasn’t the 5 yr old in the room. 🙂
Follow your own star by visiting a store: American Girl Experience