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Six Ways to Save on American Girl Dolls

A new American Girl store recently opened in Houston, and predictably, lines stretched far outside the store for weeks with young girls anxiously awaiting their opportunity to be basked in the gorgeous glory of Addy, Rebecca, Molly, and the gang of other historically-accurate character dolls—that cost upwards of $100 each (Sigh! When did history get so expensive?)

If there’s an American Girl doll on your child’s holiday list this year, you could break the bank by purchasing a doll and countless accessories in store . . . or you could use one these techniques to save some American dough on these American Girls.











#1 Buy Online

I know what you’re thinking: “The in-store experience is what my daughter (or goddaughter, niece, etc.) wants!” That may be the case, but the second little Julie steps into this menagerie of clothes, books, and accessories, she’s sure to convince you to spend more than you intended. So skip the store experience to focus on the product. Ordering online can be cheaper, especially with the company’s free shipping code for orders over $50, and can yield products not available in stores. The “sale” tab   includes an impressive collection of doll and child merchandise at up to 70% off retail prices. The “Last Chance” link gives the biggest discounts.

#2 Shop Cyber Monday

For Cyber Monday 2011, the AG website discounted over 100 selected items by 50%. This created quite the online buzz from a toy retailer who runs few sales. Who knows what the savings and deals might be this year on Cyber Monday, but mark your calendar for November 26 so that you don’t miss out!

#3 Skip the Books

The accompanying American Girl books could be bought individually for about $7 each (paperback price), but they are also readily obtained for free from public and school libraries. While your girl may want to have her own copy, she may enjoy discovering the series for free and saving the money for a purchase later. If your public library does not carry a particular book, place a patron request for the purchase to make it a permanent part of the local collection.

#4 Make Your Own Clothes

Save on clothing costs by sewing American Girl doll clothing at home. This book includes fun, easy-to-create clothes, props, and accessories from home that can be used with an American Girl doll—or any 18” doll. Other similar books exist for using materials at home to create a world of wonder for your doll, but this one has particularly high marks on Amazon.

#5 Buy Used and Send to the Doll Hospital

AG offers a thorough Doll Hospital where dolls can be lovingly restored. Tangled hair? Crayon marks? Loose arm? All these problems and more can be fixed by the AG “Doll Doctors.” Now, their services do come at a price, but if you find a used doll on Craig’s List, eBay, or at a garage sale, spending the money to get a restoration to have her looking like new can still come at a cost far less than buying new.

#6 Think Knockoffs

If an American Girl doll is just not in the budget, there are some impressive knockoffs for about $35 or less. Some of the clothes and accessories for sale (at much lower prices) under these brands can also be used with the 18” American Girl dolls:

No long store lines for me! I’ll save my money and energy by not going to the American Girl store but still scoring some deals. Who knows…with all this extra energy, I just may be motivated enough to make Black Friday this year!

This is a guest post by Audrey from Texas
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9 thoughts on “Six Ways to Save on American Girl Dolls”

  1. Susanna says:

    I have Journey Doll and personally I like their face more. I like AG dolls hair more, but ebay has wigs for just twenty dollars. You can look up how to resign a doll. It’s actually quite easy,

  2. lashley says:

    I have a target horse who is a much better size and sturdyness than the AG ones. I have many Our generation doll accessories and a Samantha doll. Sammie needs to go to the doll hospital but otherwise she is still a loving remembrance I hope to pass down to my daughters. That being said, her white “fur” coat from one of the books I bought for $5 at Michaels. Michaels and Jo-anns both have doll collections clothes. The shoes don’t quite fit right unless they are lace-able or flip flops ect but the clothing fits perfectly and give the kid a chance to buy their own “favorite” outfit for much cheaper. I have an entire tub of doll stuff still after giving my little sister half of it, including saddles and ribbons for my horse. The our generation and Michaels stuff is way cheaper and easier to find than anything AG has, most of it is nicer looking too.

  3. Leah says:

    We bought our dolls from TJ Maxx when they increased their toy section for the holidays. They carried Goetz dolls and Goetz was making the American Girl dolls before the Pleasant Company got involved. We paid about $30 and got dolls with same eye/hair color as my girls.

  4. Alissa says:

    Honestly you should check on eBay for Outfits and accessories. My daughter received a Bitty Baby and never cared for it. We sold all sorts of new clothes and matching girl sets on eBay for a song.

  5. Cathy says:

    I didn’t want to spend the money on an AG doll when it came on my older daughter’s radar. She wasn’t much of a dollie kid and I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that would collect dust. I bought her the Target brand doll. She didn’t know the difference and carried the doll everywhere for a few months. My younger daughter plays with that Target doll all of the time. I bought the Target one 4 years ago and she still looks good and her hair is still brush-able. I am thinking of buying my younger daughter an AG doll because she loves dolls, but I have to admit the Target doll was a great purchase. To a younger child who doesn’t know named brands, she passes the test. She also passes for strength and durability. :)

  6. sammygirl says:

    The Our Generation dolls are on sale at Target for $28.00

  7. prescott2 says:

    If you are fortunate enough to live near Middleton Wisconsin, AG has an annual warehouse sale to benefit the Middleton Children’s Museum. Deals are amazing. Also instead of the AG store ‘experience’ consider visiting one of the many museums that couple teas, etiquette, and history lessons paired with the specific doll characters- Samantha and Addy are most prevalent.

  8. Susan says:

    Going to an AG store is about the experience, not unlike going to Disneyland, or Build A Bear, or a rock concert. You can buy a CD and enjoy it, sure, but you can also spend a lot more on a concert ticket and a have a great time.
    We don’t have an AG store anywhere near us, which is a good thing :-). But we’ve been to three stores over the years, and we have really enjoyed it. Set a budget ahead of time and be clear with the expectations — she can pick one outfit, for example, (or in our case pick one pet), and I’ll get the location-specific shirt for both her and her doll. And that’s it.
    I do the same thing wherever we go, including Disneyland, starting when my daughter was as young as four. Set a budget for souvenirs (in this case doll accessories), make it clear so she knows what to expect, and stick to it. She’s 12 now, and she knows the drill and doesn’t argue.
    AG stores have a jillion options, so it helps to have something specific in mind before you go. Most things are in the catalog, so it’s not like the kids don’t know what’s available. One year, DD really wanted an ice skating outfit for her doll, so we put it on the wish list for an upcoming trip to Atlanta. In the end she chose something different, which was fine, but in case the choices become too overwhelming for kids, it helps to walk into the store with a plan. If she hadn’t been able to easily decide on something else, there was always that skating outfit that she would have been very happy with.
    As far as the dolls go, yes they are expensive, but they’re worth it. My daughter has a Bitty Baby and an 18″ doll. She’s outgrown playing with them, but she loves those dolls and treasures them. You can spend a lot more collectively — I know I have — on toys and things that barely get played with. Throughout her childhood I can count on my fingers the toys that got played with a lot and were worth the money, and the AG dolls are one of them.
    You don’t need a lot of accessories. DD got a outfit or accessory a few times a year, for her birthday and such, and I was almost always able to get them on sale on the AG website or on ebay.
    Also, relatively speaking, they hold their value well, as far as toys go. After a few years if you decide to sell them, provided they’re not in bad condition, you can get a decent return on them.

    • Tiffany D. says:

      I personally am of this mindset! I got an AG doll and Bitty Baby as a kid, and once a year when we went to the AG store in downtown Chicago, I got to pick out 1-2 outfits or kits. When I was super into the doll, my grandparents would get me an outfit every couple months, or for special occasions–I got the soccer outfit as a soccer player, I got the violin kit when I started playing violin, etc. I still have all of them for when I have kids, and they still look like brand new.

      It’s really about the experience sometimes, not the $$