25 July 2011

$20

Just last week we received our very first American Girl catalogue. It's like they have a radar for homes with little girls in them, and they're not afraid to strike young!

Anyway, I started flipping through the pages and it brought me back to that Christmas when I was twelve. I'd wanted an American Girl doll for years (Samantha was my favorite) and I always envied the girls in my class who would wear their old fashioned Pleasant Company clothes to match their dolls, right down to the cool whistle necklace and funny white hat. (In retrospect, maybe not the best look. But for a little girl, so much fun!)

Like I said, I was twelve the year I unwrapped that beautiful little Molly doll for Christmas. It was my one big gift and I remember knowing I was supposed to be excited, but crying about it in my room afterward. I didn't even know how to verbalize it at the time, but I knew I had missed my widow to enjoy it. I was too old. I'd wanted one for years and years but we couldn't afford it. And when my Mom so sweetly splurged on it for Christmas the first year she could, my response was probably pretty far off from what she had hoped.

So as I browsed the $100+ dolls in the catalogue, I thought to myself that I would really like to try to get Hazel a doll while she's very young so she can have it for years and years of enjoyment. But, *ahem* they're pretty pricey. So of course things ended there.


Three days later my Mom and I were headed to Nashville to have lunch together to celebrate my birthday. It was a Saturday and we'd agreed to definitely stop at yard sales as we made our way north.

The first sale we stopped at was very busy and the adults were looking weary. 11 am and they'd already been at it for four hours. We moseyed around the sale for a while. I hmm'd and haww'd over a treadmill they had for sale (never owned one and really couldn't commit to giving up the real estate in my house to it).

Then my Mom noticed a funny white cabinet with stickers all over it. She pointed it out to me and upon further inspection we realized it was an American Girl murphy bed/armoire. It was actually full of AG clothes and two sets of bedding and a bunch of great accessories. The tired seller was thrilled to take $15 for it and my Mom was thrilled to have such a lovely gift to tuck away for Hazel's Christmas this year.

(We did let Hazel take a sneak peek on Sunday since we're pretty sure she'll forget all about it by December.)
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I was also pleased to find that all of the stickers come off really easily. I'm tempted to wipe the slate clean, but I'm trying to be open to the occasional flower decoration if it pleases Hazel.
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Here are a couple of the accessories that were in the side cabinets of the bed. I checked on Ebay today and the bed is selling for $155!

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As we were paying for the bed/armoire I noticed two dolls on the seat next to the woman taking money. I said something like, "I'm assuming the dolls are not for sale, right?" and she just told me to make her an offer because she was anxious to wrap things up. I hadn't come with a bunch of cash and wasn't really planning to buy American Girl dolls quite so soon, so I told her that I didn't want to offend her and that I was okay to leave them, but if she'd take $5 for the two dolls I'd do that.

She happily handed me both of the dolls and a cute ladybug suitcase full of their clothes. I couldn't believe it! She was so friendly and just glad to be clearing things out. She tried to get me to take their American Girl dentist chair for free too but I knew we didn't want to get that committed to doll furniture in our playroom quite yet. Maybe when Hazel has her own room. I passed.

And that afternoon I came home like the conquering hero: Two American Girl dolls for $5!

Now, here's part of why they were only $5: Upon further inspection, it turns out that only one doll (the one on the right) is actually AG. And her bangs have been cut off. The doll on the left is an impressive copy, but not actually AG. Also, they needed a little attention. (You can see that I photographed our girl on the left halfway through her blowout and trim process and the other was still waiting her turn)

(Important tidbit: do NOT be an idiot and try to use a flat iron on your doll's hair. Just don't. And if you do - be smart and test a small spot underneath. So thankful I at least checked first...)
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I pulled them together as best I could and set them up for an "after" photo. Oliver jumped in for a photo bomb and since I like him the best, he gets to be in focus.

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Hazel saw all the fun we were having and asked to join everyone on the chair. (By the way, she ADORES the dolls. Just carries one around the house like it's her own little baby. So glad she's taking to them!)

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So, that's my happy American Girl goodness at a garage sale story! And, I looked into the AG doll hospital options - it looks like I can send Little Miss Short Bangs (I think it's a Kirsten doll?) in to the hospital and they'll replace her whole head for $39. That would essentially make her a whole new doll - and sure beats $100!

Have y'all found any good garage sale deals lately? (My friend Christine just found 2 giant, iron farmhouse sinks on Craigslist for $70!)

Also, what has been your experience with American Girl dolls? At what age do your girls (or did you) begin to take/lose interest in them?

55 comments:

Melissa said...

Did you know that you can get a new head of hair for the American Girl doll?! Here is the info...http://store.americangirl.com/agshop/static/dollHospital.jsp

It's still only a fraction of the price for an entirely new doll I would think!!

And also, I would say after a child can read would be a great time so that they can read the books along with the dolls. I remember flipping through the catalogs and wanting those dolls!! I also had Molly!

Courtney said...

I loved American Dolls when I was a kid and wanted Molly but didnt get any of them. My 4 year old asked for one last christmas and didnt get one. I think I will have to scope out garage sales for one in the future! great deal!!

wardfamilyramblings said...

I was a HUGE AG fan (I had AG trading cards. Nerd alert....) and we have everything saved for when Piper is old enough. I had Molly, Samantha, and Kirsten (2 of which I worked for and bought with my own extra-chore money!!) I think the super part is that Hazel can play with them now and love them, but when she is old enough for the books, the dolls just come alive again. I was definitely still enjoying my dolls into my early teens--maybe not necessarily "playing" with them the same way a little girl would, but enjoying them as part of the world that the books let me be a part of. Have you read any of the books? They are so great!

Brooke said...

I had two growing up, I LOVED them :) I had one that was made to look like me, not sure if they still do that. and then I had another. Such special dolls! Mine are being saved for when my little girl is old enough to enjoy them!

Margie said...

Wow! You did great! Kirsten was always my favorite, but I remember I devoured all the books when I was little.

Melanie {kevinandmel.com} said...

I was definitely an American Girl. I scoured each and every magazine for years. I finally saved up all of my birthday money when I turned 11 and purchased Samantha.

I was past the "doll" stage, but was totally into accessorizing and styling her hair and just enjoying her presence in my room. :D I still have her today.

SarahMerritt said...

I was going to say what Melissa said about the hospital.. We are going to have to send Adlie's Bitty baby off to the hospital soon she is showing all of her 19 years. Adlie got her first Bitty baby last summer after her Aunt Katy passed away Her bitty baby belonged to her Aunt Katy. Adlie sleeps with her Baby all the time and Bitty baby goes with us on many car trips.

Wandering On Purpose said...

This post resonated with me. I had two friends growing up who had EVERYTHING Amer. Girl - the clothes for themselves, accessories, etc. I wanted one so desperately (Kirsten). Finally on my tenth bday I got her - it was my only gift and my mom made a huge (sweet) deal about it by making it into a scavenger hunt with clues, etc. I remember being happy to get her, but sad b/c I just had the doll. (How ungrateful, right?) I had about a year of good play with her when I would bring her to my "rich" friends' houses and get to use their fun stuff.
I love that you found the dolls at a garage sale. How fun!

Courtney Kay said...

I got mine at 9 or 10 I looooooved Samantha!!! (still do) the books were the best! I had a neighbor who made me and my doll clothes :)

Raechel said...

WardFamilyRamblings - Ashley, yes! I lived and breathed those books for years! Our school library had them all. I think that's why I liked Samantha so much; I liked her books and time period the best!

Jen said...

I also was super excited to score one at a rummage sale...mine was 25 dollars and I was stoked.

The hair was pretty gross so I sent it in to get a new head. She came back looking brand new.

Then, months later her leg fell off, and I was like, eh...forget it. My 7 year old prefers her Waldorf doll, brings her everywhere and I can repair her as needed (which hasn't been necessary :) )

I always coveted an AG doll, though :) Hazel is a lucky little girl :)

Kristen Lea said...

I have Samantha, Kirsten and Josephina. They are hidden somewhere in the basement in case I have a daughter one day. My neighbor across the street had lots of clothes for her dolls, and we played with them up until we were twelve or thirteen. I was 11 when I got the first doll and 13 when I got the last. I believe I learned how to french braid on their hair.

Sarah Robbins said...

I wanted one SO badly and never got one. (My little sister, did, though since financial times had changed in the house!) I think someone else posted it, but American Girl has a doll hospital where they repair damaged American Girl dolls if you didn't get the fix you were hoping for.

That is an amazing steal!! Next time, get the extra goodies and sell them on eBay and you'll make money off your yard sale finds!

Laura Darling said...

This is such a great find! I had Felicity...the deal with my parents was that once I was old enough to read, I could read some books for each girl and then choose the one I liked the best. I just LOVED Felicity and I still remember opening that box on Christmas morning! A few years later, when I was 10 or 11 I think, I got a Girl of Today. I loved her too, but Felicity had a special place in my heart!

Fill your belly and SAVE said...

Thanks for letting me know about the replacing of the head my DD cut her hair the other day :( thank goodness I bought her at a garage sale for 5.00 :) that bed is great!!!!!!

Kirsten Smith said...

I think that I was about 9 when my grandma got me my very first Kirsten doll. I loved her-- and I loved reading all of her stories. I still have her, and a couple of her outfits, tucked away to give my daughter eventually. But I really did always want those matching costumes...sigh...we can't win'em all, right?! ;)

Great score! Happy playing, Hazel!

JCF said...

I think I was 8 or 9 when I got the long yearned for Kirsten for Christmas. She is still in really good shape, since I was a little older when I got her. My younger sister got Molly, and we played with those dolls constantly. I have the doll, her bed, desk, and some clothes tucked away for my little girl. She is only two now, and I think I will wait until she is 5 or 6 to give it to her. In the meantime, I would love to find her a Bitty Baby at a consignment store or yard sale. Maybe I will be as lucky as you were!

Debra Joy @ jubilee life said...

I remember getting my Felicity doll from my Grandma when I was about ten. I was super excited, but the fun only lasted for about a year or so before I outgrew her. I have her saved away for my daughter, who just turned three. I'm debating on when I want to give Felicity to her...it's a hard call! Especially because I painstakingly kept her hair perfect as a child...it's hard for me to let her go to the wild child look that will surely ensue within hours of my daughter's receiving her! :)

Alyssa said...

HOLY COW! You got a steal! I am embarrassed to say that we need to take out an insurance policy on my daughter's dolls... She has 9 of them, collected over the years, their beds, clothes, accessories... Thankfully, she has bought 2 herself, so she understands the value of them, but that hasn't stopped her from asking for them for every birthday/Christmas for 5 years. We've had 4 AG birthday parties as well, so she's been pretty obsessed with then. But not once have I ever found any AG stuff at garage sales.

Magda said...

WOW, what a find!!!! I just got my 3.5 year old her first AG doll. I always wanted one, but we couldn't afford them and by the time we could I was way too old! Kirsten was my favorite! The one you found looks like one of the 'just like me' AG dolls? $39 for a new head is a great deal, I say go for it!

Jordan said...

I think I got my first AG doll when I was about seven... it was a Molly doll and I played with her for years-- until she literally fell apart. When I was either 9 or 11, I got another Molly doll and she was treated more as a prized possession, although I did periodically dress her and do her hair until I was about 14 or 15. :) I think my sisters were about 9 when they got their AG dolls. My Molly doll is all wrapped up and safe in my hope chest, waiting until I have a little girl to enjoy her. :)

kristin noel said...

I adored American Girls. My cousin and I would set our dolls up and play for hours. My parents helped me learn all about saving my money to purchase desired objects when I wanted Kirsten so bad it hurt.

I must say that I am partial to the Pleasant Company versions versus the Matel ones, but they still play into a little girls dreams.

I'm hoping to get my daughter a Bitty Baby when she's 2 or 3. She can play with my dolls (4 total) when she is older. And I'll probably join her! :-)

P.S. The doll hospital is awesome!

Andrea said...

So fun! And what an amazing deal.

I was excited last month when neighbors at our street sale had a bunch of AG doll clothes - most of them for Kirsten which is exactly what I had been searching for!!!

One of my sisters had a Kirsten doll, and since she has been blessed with all boys, she gifted Kirsten to my daughter. (We also had to have a trip to the doll hospital for a head and arm replacement.) However, she never had many clothes for Kirsten, and somehow, it's not as appealing to play with a doll when you can't change up their wardrobe. I'm planning on giving them to Brie when she turns 8 next month - can't wait to see the expression on her face.

I also had a Samantha doll with some of her clothes and furniture. I've slowly been allowing Brie to play with the pieces as she's gotten older.

Tracy said...

What an awesome deal, Rae! Olivia is in love with AG dolls, but we can't swing the $100. She did get a knock off from Target, that she adores, too. Luckily, she isn't old enough to know the difference, yet. ;)

nic said...

the catalogues come to our house too, even when we move. it's a conspiracy. :)

i wrote AG off immediately as too pricey, but for $5 i could be won over in half a heartbeat, snipped bangs or no.

your makeover is perfection--they both look great.

ps i think people should start giving ME a sneak peek of my gifts, since i'm pretty sure i'll have no memory of them by december either. :) it's like twice the surprise.

Susan Graham said...

What a deal! Brienna still plays with hers. We plan on taking Alice for a super special day to NYC and the ag store to buy hers when she is about 5. She went nuts in the store in Chicago. She was just so delighted there was a store full of her favorite toys.

Kristen516 said...

Wow...that was some purchase. I have two little girls and we get the catalog...they have picked out their favorites....the THINK they have AG dolls but they are knock offs....we are going to an AG party in NYC this Saturday....I'll give them money towards clothes but have a hard time with $100 for a doll. Maybe for Christmas.

The Del Angel Family said...

I LOVE your yardsale posts. I think they are my favorites!

Mere said...

Oh I adored my AG doll! I had always wanted Molly, and finally got one when I was either 8 or 9...so the magic had kind of worn off. But I loved the AG books too, and read those well into my middle school years!
I can't believe that you scored such a great deal on the dolls and bed! The funny thing is, as I was reading about how one doll had her bangs cut off, I was thinking to myself, "oh, they'll just grow back!" DUH! haha. Hope Hazel enjoys numerous hours of fun with her new dolls! :)

Sdlgillikin said...

I too received a Molly doll at 12. I had wanted one, but our family couldn't afford it either. A friend of the family bought it for me for Christmas one year. I also remember being grateful, but not super excited as I was kind of over them.

It resonates with me the same way that I made my daughter a waldorf doll for her 1st birthday, and she has yet to take to it. I love it so much that I'm hoping she will learn to love it too. Ah, the expectations of mommies and children; sometimes they are so very different.

Great find! I wish I could find such great deals at yard sales (maybe I could if I actually went! haha)

curtandjenb said...

Oh I love this post! Get this, I was 16 when my mom splurged and bought me an American Girl doll. Here is why though...not because I was in to dolls at 16 but I was a tennis player and they had a tennis outfit so she bought the whole set. I think I shook my head, asked for gas money and she returned everything! So creative but, oh, so late on the draw!!! Such a good laugh now!

Annabelle Gettman said...

I had a very similar experience to you. I received Samantha about the same age, but was too old by that point to really enjoy her. My oldest daughter is 6, and LOVES her to death though! I can't believe your yard sale find. Wow!

Anonymous said...

I wanted an AG doll so bad when I was a kid. Samantha was also my favorite, I would go to the school library and check out all her books over and over again. One year my mom finally splurged and got me the AG doll that you would order to look just like me. I was so sad it wasn't Samantha and was so jealous of my friend that got Molly and her bed. No a cherish that doll and when I have children I hope I have a little girl to give it to.

Cecilia said...

I had Molly and loved her! I loved the book as well. They used to sell patterns for doll and girl outfits and my Nana (grandmother) made us a matching dress I loved. I'm hoping when my daughter gets older to take her to the AG store. I believe the one by my parents even has a cafe where the dolls eat with you. I'm already excited about it!

Amy said...

We gave our daughter one of the bitty twins (split the set with a friend to make it more affordable) when she was 2. She was rough with dolls at that point that I set her AG aside until she was 3. It is her favorite doll now at almost 5. I bought Felicity at a yard sale for $10 in great condition and I am saving her for when we read the books. She is in the middle with 2 older brothers and one soon to be two younger brothers so I don't think she plays with dolls as much because the boys don't want to. I don't know where I was growing up because I didn't know anyting about AG dolls. My husband and I went to the AG store in NYC. It's pretty unbelievable.

Rsymphony said...

I’ve always loved American Girl dolls and I remember getting Molly for Christmas when I was eleven :) The thing I love most about AG is how great the quality is. I gave our oldest my old Molly doll when she turned six and to be honest…Molly could use a new head; but I’ve watched Toy Story 3 too many times ;) I also had a bitty baby and we got the girls bitty babies for Christmas when they were three and two :) They loved getting to take care of their babies and it really helped them to be gentler with their baby brothers. Now, at seven and six, we’re planning on buying our girls Kit and Emily this year and having Grandparents buy accessories ;) Our niece, who’s almost eleven, has Ruthie and the girls can’t wait to have tea parties with their dolls together :) I love getting to relive my childhood with our girls!

TimeForLemonade said...

Somehow, we always get the magazines, too. I just love the dolls and accessories. I was even tempted to buy one...and I don't have any children yet! Haha. What a steal, though. You should've taken the dentist chair, too! Kuddos on your awesome deals!

Jessica said...

I have always loved AG dolls, but all I ever got were the books when I was younger. When my oldest daughter was 7 I bought her Julie, all the books, and her entire bedroom set. I was so excited to give it to her for Christmas, and she took one look at it and that was about it. Totally not interested. BUT thankfully my 3 year old is IN LOVE with Julie and all her goodies! I think its great to start young. They can use it more!!

henzy said...

That is so cute.. also makes me glad I have a boy who will be just as happy playing with rocks and twigs.. but then again it'll be him bring home pockets full of mud.. oh who am I kidding.. girl stuff is just so much cuter!

Kirsten said...

I had the same experience as you! I wanted a Kirsten doll soooo bad(even more since that is MY name) growing up, but we didn't have the money. By the time I got one (I think I was about 10), I had passed my doll stage, and she just sat around. Good to know about being able to replace the head; I recently found mine in my parent's garage, and one of the eyes somehow lost all of its color and looks pretty creepy. I'm sure my 2 year old little girl wound love it!

Tara said...

Rae - What a good find! Hope loves getting the A.G in the mail to look through. When she turned 4 we almost took the plunge and got one but I was so worried she would not play with it forever. SOOOOO....have you seen the mini dolls? They are just as cute.. the same adorable clothes, but only 20 dollars a piece. and perfectly size to hold in your hand. They are sold at A.G or also Barnes and Noble. So instead of spending 100 dollars on one doll, for birthday and christmas - Hope has received a few of the minis so that she has several different ones to play with together.

Seagers said...

My sister and I had to save $ from a paper route we did, to buy our first AG dolls. My grandma sewed clothes for them (using their patterns), and my grandpa made a Kirsten and a Molly bed. I have Molly sitting on a doll stand in my daughter's room, but I am not sure that I want her used yet.

Ashley said...

What an AWESOME find! I got a Samantha doll when I was 10. My sister had Kirsten and we played with those dolls for HOURS at a time. I was obsessed with the books, paper dolls, accessories, catalogs, etc etc...!

Anonymous said...

What a great find! I always wanted an ameridan girl doll growing up but they were to expensive. We got our daughter a bitty baby for chrsitmas last year, she was 3, and she loves her. I wanted a doll taht would last through her years and i think we found one!. You can also sometimes find some good doll/accessories deals on ebay!

iheartbowheads.blogspot.com said...

oh what a deal - I love deals - I really heart deals - I am so happy for you and for your deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rachel said...

Great find along with a great story!! Hazel will definitely cherish those dolls in the years to come!

I grew up with Molly and Felicity. To earn the dolls, my parents had me keep track of the chapter books I read. After reading something like 200 books I was able to get a doll. Definitely worked to motivate me!!

Our Baby "D" said...

I haven't commented very often, but I've been reading your blog for a few months now-thank you for sharing your tutorials-they are great!

You are my yard sale inspiration. What great finds. I got into the dolls around 6 or 7 years old I think. Kirsten was the one I had. Also, great job on the beauty salon-amazing what we do for our kids, huh?!

Krystal said...

YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! That is awesome! What a steal! No wonder you garage sale! You are the bargin queen ;)

Our daughter got her first AG doll at about the age of 6 or 7! She loves them and their horse :)

Melissa Vines said...

What a makeover those two got! That was a great find! I have my Molly & Samantha neatly packed away in my closet for when Lyric gets old enough for them. I have all the clothes that my late grandmother sewed for them too. It will be so neat sharing them with her. :)

Claudia said...

I'm a little late reading your blog. I just wanted to tell you that there is an AG store in Atlanta and I'm pretty sure you can bring your doll there and get her hair (head?) replaced. I have been to the store a couple of times and I know they have a "salon" there. I'm sure if you called them they could give you the info regarding this. So glad your sweet Hazel is enjoying your lucky find!

Kelsey said...

I got my american girl doll when i was Seven! I had Kirsten and i loved her. Played with her all the time !!I maybe stopped playing with her when i was10 or 11 years old. I am now 27 and still have her in my room, I even had to send her away for a new leg due to a puppy chewing off the foot, it was mailed to my house complete with a get well balloon, hospital gown, and hospital bracelets. My sister had samatha and we used to put on plays with our dolls well worth the investment and even better for five dollars !!!

Sara said...

A subject after my own heart :)

I got my first "American Girl" (I got a bitty baby, I named her Molly) for either my birthday or Christmas when I was 4. They're 5 days apart so I don't remember which one haha. I carried her EVERYWHERE. So much so that her arm was detached from it's socket halfway until I was a teenager and fixed her myself. Once I got older I got the actual dolls. Kiersten first, then Kit, then Josefina.

You can get the patterns for their clothes and sew them yourself. That's what my Mom always did for me. Saved A LOT of money. And she bought plain wooden furniture at the craft store and painted it to match the ones in the catalog.

I'm 21 now and still have all my dolls but I hold my bitty baby closest to my heart. She was my best friend.

Christine said...

Okay, here's my short story: I had a very similar experience to yours. Candice and I got AG dolls the same year, and since she's 4 years younger, her Kirsten worked for her for several years. But I was maybe 11? And I just wasn't into my lovely Samantha. But! The good news is that my mom hung onto her, and now Samantha sits in my daughter's closet in nearly pristine condition. I don't think I ever did her hair. So far C doesn't show an interest, but Sam is there for her, just in case.

You did very, very well. I'm just now realizing the huge money pit that is American Girl, and you skirted that beautifully. (It's like when we found $500 worth of Thomas stuff for $75--what a red letter day.) And a doll hospital! Wow. Hazel is a lucky little lady! And with a seamstress for a mommy, her dolls will be very well-dressed.

chiten.

Shannon said...

I just got an AG doll for my niece from a garage sale this weekend.
I am wondering what you did to their hair to make it look descent again? The one I got needs some hear help asap :)

Michelle said...

Amazing finds! I really need to hit more garage sales.

My girls were 6 or 7 before they really truly appreciated their AG dolls for what they are. They can play with the earlier but I think the 8-10 age group enjoys them and all their accessories the most.

The twins I nanny for got bitty twins from the grandma for Christmas when they were one and then she was upset when they carried them outside, drew on them (when mom was home not me), and generally beat them up. At some point they are two young to really care for an expensive doll like that but since you got them practically free that isn't as much of a problem.