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The City Journals

Silver Mesa Girl’s Petition Leads to Opening of American Girl Doll Store

Dec 07, 2015 12:38PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

Sandy - Hundreds of young girls and their families who stood in line Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 have a Silver Mesa girl to thank for starting a petition when she was in second grade to bring an American Girl Doll store to the Salt Lake area.

When Sara Bryner was a second grader two years ago, she took a classroom lesson to heart when she learned young citizens could make a difference.

Her second-grade teacher, Lisa Latoni, said that reading “Carl the Complainer” was part of the social studies curriculum, and students learned that through speaking up, the youngsters in the story influenced the town council’s decision about having a park stay open later.

After learning about petitions and the changes they can make, Sara Bryner took the initiative to write a petition to the American Girl Doll Company in hopes of getting a store opened in Salt Lake City. The closest stores are in Seattle, Denver and San Francisco.

“We talked about making changes and learned that these changes aren’t always influenced by adults,” Latoni said about the lesson. “This class is very self-motivated, so it didn’t surprise me that Sara wrote a petition. It’s the first time a student in my class has written one on her own.”

In the petition, which had hundreds of signatures both on paper and online, Sara pointed out that Utah has several national parks that could employ people and the state has a large population of young girls who would like to shop for dolls. 

Sara, who owns three American Girl dolls, has read several of the books and seen some of the movies based on the doll characters.

“I really like the American Girl dolls and think it would be great if we could have a store here,” she said shortly after writing the petition. “I had all but one of the boys in my (second-grade) class sign it. Even my (then) 14-year-old sister who doesn’t like dolls signed it.”

The opening of an American Girl Doll store Oct. 24 in Murray showed how powerful the lesson was, her mother Missy said.

“I don’t know how much Sara’s petition influenced their decision, but the employees sure made her feel as if it did,” Bryner said. “They thanked her for their jobs and were really cute and so sweet with Sara and her two younger sisters who toured the store on Friday, before the grand opening.”

The store in Fashion Place Mall is one of seven temporary stores that opened for the holiday season across the country; the Murray store plans to offer 18-inch dolls and their accessories through January while looking for a permanent location. 

According to the American Girl doll website, more than 27 million American Girl dolls and 151 million books have sold since 1986, when three dolls were introduced: Felicity, whose stories were set during the American Revolution, depression-era Kit and Molly, growing up on the homefront during World War II.

Sara said that during the tour, the manager gave her sisters and herself mini-American Girl dolls and ornaments, as well as a Caroline book. The dolls they brought were treated to special hair-dos.

At her school, an announcement was made saying that the store would be opening as a result of her petition.

“I was really excited when I learned about the store coming,” Sara said. “I realized that something small can turn into something large, and that I can make a difference in the world.”