I was one of the first employees at the first American Girl Place in Chicago over a decade ago.
I was an easy-hire because I had the Kirsten doll when I was 9, back when Pleasant Company was a mail-order catalog with 3 dolls to choose from. Oh yeah, I'm a vintage costumer. And yes, I have met Ms. Rowland.
This past year AGP moved a block away to a new location in Water Tower Place. I knew my girl's interest in American Girl Products was inevitable, but I never would have imagined it happening so young. As I spent my weekends working at AGP, I sometimes wondered what it would be like to have daughters and to come into the store with them, and what that would be, and who I would be and what would happen.
The day finally arrived.
Of course we have been to AGP NYC a few times, but never bought anything, just browsed around. In Chicago, however, we not only shopped, but we dined as well.
The ladies in mi familia gathered together and had a proper ladies lunch, and yes our dolls accompanied us. My girls brought their Kit and Julie dolls and cousin V, borrowed her mom's old Molly doll. The girls got AGP Chicago tees to wear and a few for their dolls to match.
Back in the day, my view of the cafe was quite closed: CHAOS.
Today, however was nothing resembling chaos. We were seated orderly, the waitstaff got us all set up with doll chairs, high chairs, doll tea, food, extra utensils and napkins and we only heard Happy Birthday sung 3 times. The pace was just right, the food was good enough and my favorite part was the conversation starters. Phoebe reached into a black and white striped box and posed questions for us to discuss: What actor would play you in a movie about you? Which teacher is most memorable to you and why? If you could choose to be an only child or have 10 siblings, which would you pick? You can't pick a number in between...etc.
Lolly added one: Which American Girl Name are you, I'm Kit, so you can't pick Kit.
I have had enough time and space from the retail job of my college days to appreciate the institution that AGP is. Is it commercial? Can it be a bit over-the-top? Are some of the products of dissappointing quality? YES. Today, however, we squeaked by all that and had ourselves a time that I know Ms. Rowland would smile about, it was indeed pleasant.
(Lolly and I spied these doll-hoook-holders in the bathroom at AGP NYC last week, and were pretty psyched to try them now that we had a doll with us):
(We think we have finally found a photo in which we resemble each other.):