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It's time for a trip into the past: American Girl is opening a pop-up shop in Fashion Place Mall in Murray on Saturday.
The temporary 2,600-square-foot store won't be exactly the same as the 40,000-square-foot flagship stores in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, said American Girl spokeswoman Stephanie Spanos. But it will feature a selection of the 18-inch historical and contemporary dolls, their companion books and accessories.
Time has changed the dolls themselves, but not their popularity. More than 27 million American Girl dolls have sold since 1986, when frontier settler Kirsten, Edwardian-era Samantha, and World War II patriot Molly were introduced. And though nostalgia for the historical dolls is strong the "retired" characters and their accessories can fetch thousands on eBay a new generation of children has become enamored by the company's "Truly Me" dolls, which are customizable down to the freckle.
"The girls love it," said Mary Wolf, who runs the American Girl Club at the Murray Barnes & Noble. "A lot of girls go out of state to these doll stores. It'll be nice to have one right here."
The dolls are available only online, via catalog or in American Girl stores. Salt Lake City is one of seven locations to get a temporary store for the holidays, with others in Las Vegas; Portland, Ore.; Indianapolis; San Diego; and two in the Los Angeles area.
Eight-year-old Sara Bryner started a Change.org online petition last year for the company to open an American Girl store in Salt Lake City.
"American Girl dolls and books teach our daughters and granddaughters strong values and give them good role models," wrote Marjean Weiler of Cottonwood Heights, who signed the petition.
Spanos said the Fashion Place store is expected to be open until the end of January. It'll also have a Doll Hair Salon, where children can bring their dolls to have their hair done or replaced.
The grand opening begins Saturday at 10 a.m. and continues through 6 p.m. Sunday. There will be free gifts and crafts for children (while supplies last) and the chance to enter to win a doll and book.
Those who had or admired the pricey dolls in the '80s or '90s and want to bring their children to meet Molly or Kirsten will be disappointed; Samantha is the last doll standing from when a former schoolteacher launched the Pleasant Company nearly 30 years ago.
Over the years, girls of other historical eras (and races) were added, like Felicity, from colonial times; Addy, who escapes from slavery; and Kaya, a Nez Perce girl. Each character was the subject of a six-part series detailing the cultural traditions, adventures and challenges of her time period.
Dozens of historically accurate accessories were available for each doll, from Kirsten's slate pencil to Felicity's elaborate canopy bed, which in 1991 would set the doll's grandparent back $98. A (human-size) clothing line was introduced, along with a line of craft kits and advice books.
Mattel, which also makes Barbie toys, bought Pleasant Company for $700 million in 1998, and many of the historical dolls now rebranded as BeForever dolls have been retired by the company.