Just two days after our first visit to the new American Girl store, I found myself back at the Stanford Shopping Center for the Grand Opening Ceremony. Fortunately, we had done all of our purchases, so we were not part of the crowd who had started arriving as early as 4:30 a.m. (Stanford Shopping Center did not allow lines to form before 7:00 a.m., and they closed the parking lot until 6:00 a.m., but small groups hung around until the barriers came down, then sprinted into the line for tickets). By 8:30 a.m., the line had stretched halfway across the shopping mall, and 700 tickets had already been issued (they expect up to 10,000 visitors this weekend). My daughter and I were on hand to witness the 9:00 a.m. ribbon cutting, the first girls in line to enter the store, and the steady stream of customers thereafter.
Thanks to American Girl’s ticket-based crowd control system, there were no angry mobs in sight, just orderly lines. Only the first few batches of ticket holders were allowed to line up in front of the store. Guests with higher batch numbers have to wait until their number is called (you can sign up for text alerts or check the notice boards throughout the mall.
In addition, American Girl and the Stanford Shopping Center have provided plenty of distractions to pass the time. Guests can work on craft activities (designing American Girl tote bags and holiday bookmarks) or grab breakfast at Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and other eateries that are open early today and tomorrow. An outdoor stage has been set up, and customers will enjoy performances from Dance Connection, Guggenheim Entertainment, Magical Strings, and Fantasy Dance, starting at noon on both days. Guests can even get a souvenir photo of their experience: just snap a photo and upload it to Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #AmericanGirlSF, and The Laugh Box will automatically print out the photo. Photos can be picked up from The Laugh Box table opposite the Microsoft Store.
Many stores throughout the mall are joining in the celebration, offering great deals this weekend only. Here’s a sampling:
- Auntie Anne’s Pretzels: Say “American Girl” and buy one Pretzel item and get the second Pretzel item for free (same or lesser value only)
- Brooks Brothers: Say “American Girl” and receive $25 off your purchase of $100 or more.
- Pinkberry: Say “American Girl” and receive 20% off one yogurt purchase or show and American Girl receipt dated 11/16-11/17 and receive 50% off one yogurt purchase.
- Pottery Barn: Say “American Girl” and get 10% off all in-store purchases.
- Sephora: Stop by with your new American Girl doll and receive a mini makeover on us! To qualify, please bring your new doll and a parent. (Makeovers will occur on a first come first served basis).
- Sprinkles Cupcakes: Say “American Girl” and buy one, get one free. This offer may be redeemed until Friday, November 22 (Limit one per person/ no cash value).
- Starbucks Coffee: Complimentary sampling of our buttery, flaky, savory and sweet treats throughout the weekend and on Saturday, November 16th from 12:00-4:00 pm stop in for a free tall coffee.
- Tommy Bahama: Visit us with your American Girl doll and receive a complimentary flower lei for you and your doll! Cookies and bottled water will be served.
The full list of offers and performance schedule is printed on a program being handed out to all guests.
Soon after the opening, we left the store and walked around the mall, which is buzzing with energy. Every single child (and all but a few frazzled parents) is walking around with smiles on their faces. Everyone I spoke to agreed that getting to visit on opening weekend was well worth the wait. With bragging rights (I was one of the first to shop at American Girl San Francisco!) and the promise of a free gift (an American Girl paper doll book) on the line, I’d have to agree: it’s worth the wait.
Check out photos of the new American Girl San Francisco on bonggamom’s blog, Bonggamom Finds, and enter to win an American Girl photo book from Shutterfly on her review blog, Bonggamom Finds.