New American Girl Store Offers More than Just Dolls

If you walk the magnificent mile this weekend, you'll probably see an unusually high number of pre-teen girls clutching bright red shopping bags. That's because Chicago's American Girl Place officially opens this Saturday in its new location inside  Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Avenue.

The sprawling, 52,000 square foot store is a little girl's dream. The signature American Girl dolls, outfits and accessories are just the beginning. The new store boasts a marketplace with shops and services just for girls and dolls, appropriately called 'Avenue AG.'

A fully-staffed hair salon complete with miniature styling chairs provides doll hairstyling. Braids, pig-tails, and curls range from $10-$20. Girls can design t-shirts for their doll and even drop them off at the  "hospital" to be cleaned and repaired.

One of the biggest features of the new store is the American Girl Cafe, a pink-themed room at the back of the store that serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner.  The dolls dine at the table in their own special chairs beside their owner.

Visitors travel from across the Midwest and often spend several hours browsing the store. The Ritz Carlton and a number of other Chicago hotels now offer American Girl room packages to entice families who make the trip.

American Girl started in 1986 with a series of dolls modeled after fictional historical characters. The brand has expanded to include books, magazines, and a line of contemporary dolls. American Girl opened its first retail location in Chicago ten years ago. The Chicago location remains one of the company's flagship stores.

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