The wait is finally over! Northern California finally has its own American Girl Store. American Girl San Francisco is having a Grand Opening this weekend, November 16 and 17. There's going to be a ribbon cutting, craft activities, a raffle, and a free surprise for each little girl who visits. The opening is going to draw parents and daughters to come from hundreds of miles away -- American Girl expects a crowd of 10,000 over the next two days! I've heard stories of groups camping out the night before, but in recent years American Girl has perfected their crowd control system to minimize waiting and stress. Here are some tips for planning your American Girl weekend:
* To reduce guests waiting and observe fire-safety regulations, a ticket system will be used for American Girl Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto grand-opening weekend.
* Each person (including children) who wishes to enter the store will receive a ticket with an assigned group number.
* Ticket distribution for begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 16, and at 8 a.m. on Sunday, November 17. Saturday tickets are valid for Saturday only. Sunday tickets are valid for Sunday only.
* Lining up prior to 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 16 and 8 a.m. on Sunday, November 17 will not be permitted. 8 a.m. on Sunday, November 17. Overnight camping is not allowed on property.
* When the store opens each day, groups will be announced in numerical order for admittance through the American Girl entrance adjacent to California Pizza Kitchen.
* You can shop or dine in Stanford Shopping Center until your group number is called, or, should you have a Bistro reservation, you can come directly to the Welcome Table as check-in is allowed two hours prior to your Bistro reservation time,whichever comes first.
* Text Messaging will be available providing updates on current group numbers being admitted; details on text messaging will be available onsite. Also, 22x28 signs will be located throughout Stanford Shopping Center, providing updates on current group numbers being admitted.
My best tip for avoiding the crowds at the new store? Come and shop today!! The store has actually been open for a few days now, but it's a soft opening to get the staff ramped up. No publicity, just foot traffic and word of mouth. The Pea and I were at the store yesterday to receive an exclusive tour, and although there were quite a few shoppers, there were no lines at all. Getting there early gave me a chance to take some photos around the store without shoppers blocking the way. Here are a few photos of the store to give you a general idea of the layout and decor:
The first floor houses the bookstore, Girl of the Year section, Historical Characters section, Bitty Baby and Bitty Twins sections, and American Girl Store San Francisco Merchandise.
The Grand Staircase is unique to the San Francisco store. The large pastel globe lights are so cute! It opens up onto the second floor, which houses the American Girl Bistro, Creativi-Tees Boutique, Doll Hair Salon, My American Girl section, and Holiday merchandise.
The American Girl Bistro was not yet open, but they expect to be fully operational tomorrow. Unlike the American Girl Cafe in Chicago, New York and LA, which serve a set menu, the Bistro menu is a la carte, so you can make reservations for lunch or just an afternoon ice cream sundae. I've heard rumors that the place is booked till March -- but I just looked at the online calendar, and while November is pretty much booked, there are lots of openings in December.
The Pea and her friend had their dolls' hairs done at the Doll Hair Salon.
No lines at the cash registers right now, but we fully expect that to change tomorrow!
I'll be back at the store tomorrow to take photos of the ribbon cutting, the opening and the crowds. Hope to see you there!
For more photos of the new American Girl Store in San Francisco, check out my American Girl Flickr photoset and my AG San Francisco post on Finding Bonggamom! And don't forget to enter my giveaway for a free American Girl custom photo book from Shutterfly!
Disclosure: As an invited guest to a soft opening tour, I received a complimentary doll hairstyle at the Doll Salon and a goody bag. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.