American Girl is a line of dolls, books, and accessories based on teen girl characters that originally focused on various periods of American history from the viewpoint of girls and has now expanded to include dolls of and stories about contemporary girls. The company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, and its products were originally purchasable by mail order only. In 1998, Pleasant Company became a subsidiary of Mattel. The company has been awarded the Oppenheimer Toy Award, eight times.
American Girl Stores
American Girl Place in The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, California
American Girl Place is a store that sells American Girl dolls, clothes, and accessories. The flagship and first store debuted in Chicago followed by stores in New York and Los Angeles. A number of boutiques followed which are smaller than the main stores; they feature rotating stock and some have casual restaurants. There are six smaller stores to date in North Point Mall in Alpharetta, Georgia; Galleria Dallas Mall in Dallas, Texas; at the Natick Collection in Natick, Massachusetts; at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota; in the Vistas section of the Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, Colorado, and most recently in September 2010 at Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri). A tenth store is planned for summer 2011 at Tysons Corner Center in Tysons Corner, Virginia (Washington DC region).
American Girl Movie
American Girl films
In 2004, American Girl teamed with Red Om production company and Julia Roberts to create the first American Girl direct-to-video movie, Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. The film spawned a franchise that was followed by Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (2005), Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front (2006), along with the 2008 theatrically released film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. In 2009, HBO premiered on An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. Julie: An American Girl Musical was announced as a 2012 theatrical release.
American Girl magazine
First issue January 1993
Company American Girl
Country United States
Based in Middleton, Wisconsin
American Girl is a magazine run by the American Girl company. It was started by the Pleasant Company in Middleton, Wisconsin in 1992,with the first issue dated January 1993. Aimed towards girls ages 8 through 14, the bimonthly magazine includes articles, advice columns, fiction, arts and crafts, and activity ideas.
Dolls and accessories
Originally introduced in 1995, the My American Girl dolls 2010 (formerly known as "Just Like You 2009 "and "American Girl of Today" or "American Girl Today") are a line of contemporary dolls and accessories. This line has included over fifty different dolls over the years (although many are no longer produced and are only available on the secondary market). Each doll has a different combination of face mold; skin tone; eye color; and hair color, length and/or style. American Girl states that this variety allows customers to choose dolls that "represent the individuality and diversity of today's American girls". These dolls are not marketed as representing specific races or ethnicities. Each doll is sold wearing a standard 'Meet' outfit that is updated every two years to reflect new fashion trends. A wide variety of contemporary clothing, accessories, and furniture is available for separate purchase, and there are regular releases and retirements to update this line.
The Historical Characters were initially the main focus of Pleasant Company. This product line aims to teach aspects of American history through a six book series from the perspective of a nine year old girl living in that time period. Although the books are written for the eight-to-thirteen-year-old target market, they endeavor to cover significant topics such as child labor, child abuse, poverty, racism, slavery, alcoholism, animal abuse, and war in manners appropriate for the understanding and sensibilities of the company's target market.
Online marketing and philanthropy
American Girl launched Innerstar University, an online virtual world featuring the My American Girl contemporary doll line, on July 13, 2010. Access to the online world is via a Campus Guide (available separately for a limited time, normally bundled with purchase of one of the 40 My American Girl dolls) which contains an access code for the creation of a doll avatar that then navigates the various games, shops, and challenges of the virtual campus of Innerstar U. The launch was simultaneous with Shine on Now, a fund-raising effort Kids In Distressed Situations, National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, National Wildlife Federation, and Save the Children charities. The company has also donated "almost $500,000" over several years to national non-profit homeless housing group HomeAid. These contributions are mainly through its Project Playhouse program.
American Girl's has been criticized for its business practices and its products. The expense of the doll and accessories themselves have also been criticized. One source estimates the $600 is spent on the doll and accessories, with the doll itself starting at $100, clothing averaging $28 per outfit, and a $50 lunch for two at the company's store in New York City.
The sole African-American among American Girl's named characters, Addy, was criticised for her role as a slave in stories. Critics questioned why a post-slavery era storyline was not chosen. In 2005 residents of Pilsen (a neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois) criticsed a passage in the book associated with the Marisol doll saying that it described that their neighborhood as "dangerous" and "there is no place to play." A senior public relations associate for American Girl responded to critics saying: “We feel that this brief passage has been taken out of context in the book." Gwen Thompson, a limited edition doll was criticized by a conservative columnist writing in the New York Post in September 2009 saying the story associated with the doll was inappropriate "political indoctrination" intended to encourage misandry. She was also homless.
In August 2005, American Girls was questioned about its "I Can" brand and the company's association with the Girls, Inc. organization because of its ties to abortion rights and acceptance of homosexuality. American Girl responded that their donations were earmarked to support the work of Girls, Inc. in the areas of intellectual development, leadership, and sports programs for women.
The American Girl Place store in New York City was the center of a labor dispute with Actors Equity Association (AEA). On August 3, 2006, fourteen of the eighteen adult actors at the store's now defunct theater went on strike. AEA reached a two-year contract effective April 1, 2008. All American Girl Place theatres were subsequently closed in September of that year.