Six-year-old twins Kaitlyn and Kristin Welch spent Friday morning at American Girl Place at the Grove, accompanied by their mother, their grandmother -- and two brand-new American Girl dolls.
"They've been doing so well in school," said Linda Kettle, the girls’ grandmother. "It’s a special reward."
Crowds at the Grove seemed subdued Friday afternoon, with traffic comparable to a typical Saturday's at the popular shopping and dining area in Los Angeles' Fairfax district. Lines of cars hunting for a spot snaked around the eight-story parking garage. A recording of Frank Sinatra crooning “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” echoed in the streets during the balmy afternoon.
But despite the lack of discounts, late into the afternoon, shoppers dropped major cash.
Kettle and the girls’ mother, Janelle Welch, carried three large red bags loaded with $1,000 worth of American Girl Place merchandise. The twins, in tops with pink-sequined sleeves, clutched their new dolls, Bella and Jewel.
The jeans, accessories and slippers the family bought Friday will be the girls’ Christmas and birthday gifts.
Friday was the only day the family could all go together to celebrate the twins’ upcoming birthday -- but American Girl Place, part of Mattel Inc., had no Black Friday discounts.
American Girl Place contains a store for American Girl merchandise, as well as a doll hair salon and a tea room where families and dolls can dine together. The lifelike dolls have had an enthusiastic following for more than 20 years.
Welch and her husband are both teachers. The purchase was a splurge for their family, she said, but they’re more confident that furloughs will stop in her school district because California's Proposition 30 passed.
At the other end of the Grove, 46-year-old Karen Barrett hunted for an elusive pair of triangle-shaped crystal earrings at the Swarovski boutique. Barrett, who says she owns more than a dozen crystal pieces from the store, said she probably would ask for the $160 earrings as a present from her son.
She drove more than 45 minutes from Ontario on Friday, but she didn't do it for the bargains.
"I got there at midnight last year, and I said never again," Barrett said. Her hands were adorned with large bracelets and a cocktail ring.A manager at the Swarovski boutique said the store took in about $10,000 in sales Friday, which was “typical” for Black Friday. It did not offer any discounts.