Child -- and adult -- fans of American Girl dolls and accessories soon will be able to shop for them at Easton Town Center.
On Sept. 19, American Girl announced plans for an 11,500-square-foot "experiential" store scheduled to open at Easton in early summer 2013.
That news puts a smile on the face of American Girl doll collector Sharon Marion of Canal Winchester.
"I've got 40-plus American Girl dolls and I'm totally excited about the store going in at Easton," Marion said.
An avid collector of the dolls for 20 years, Marion has traveled to the store in Chicago several times, as well as the Atlanta location.
The Easton store "would mean having hands-on access to anything American Girl," she said.
The brand attracted her attention as a collector because of the high quality and "fantastic accessories," said Marion, who helped to design the American Girl doll display at the Mid-Ohio Historical Museum, 700 Winchester Pike in Canal Winchester, where she volunteers her time.
For Marion and her 11-year-old granddaughter, Emily McCoy of Canal Winchester, the dolls are a great source for bonding.
"We'll watch the DVDs together and dress our dolls," Marion said. "They are a heart-warming and fun doll for not only little girls but the adult collector, as well."
Marion said she will be a frequent visitor to the store when it opens.
The experiential store concept offers more than just shopping, said Stephanie Spanos, American Girl spokeswoman.
"Beyond shopping, we'll have a restaurant, a doll hair salon and T-shirt designing," Spanos said, "and there will be a lot of events throughout the year."
The doll hair salon offers more than 30 hairdos and is the store's most popular experience, Spanos said.
"It's an interactive experience, and the stylists offer tips on hair care, and you can order pampering for your doll," she said.
Should the doll need a greater level of tender loving care, the store can send it to the doll hospital in Chicago, where it will receive the special attention it needs before returning home, Spanos said.
The new store will have the entire product line of dolls, outfits, accessories and books, as well as souvenir products exclusive to Columbus, Spanos said.
It will be located in Easton's North District, across the breezeway from American Eagle, said Brock Schmaltz, Easton spokesman.
The new store will be American Girl's 15th in as many years, Spanos said, noting the company selects locations based on its online sales market.
"We select a market and look for a mall in that area that is a great fit for our brand, which is all about families," Spanos said. "(Easton Town Center) is a great family destination. It's a lifestyle mall and a great fit for us."
"Our American Girl stores have been praised as leading models for experiential retail, and we're thrilled to continue this success with our new location at Easton Town Center," said Wade Opland, American Girl's vice president of retail, in a written statement. "The mall's upscale mix of retail and restaurants is a great fit for our brand and provides us with an amazing opportunity to debut this exciting retail concept to our American Girl fans in the Columbus area."
Easton developers agree with the perfect fit.
"From its inception, Easton was designed to be a family-friendly, regional destination, and the announcement of American Girl emphasizes that focus," said Adam Flatto, president of Georgetown Co., co-developers of Easton Town Center along with Steiner and Associates, in a written statement. "We couldn't be more proud to associate ourselves with such an iconic brand."
The store will provide about 100 regular and 30 seasonal jobs, Spanos said.