How Covid (And Ungrateful American Girl Fans) Killed The Benefit Sale
Last night, after a 36 year run that spanned most of American Girl's history, the Madison Children's Museum announced that the 2023 American Girl Benefit Sale will be the final sale. There are many factors that led to this, including a focus on actual programming for the children's museum and less product being returned to American Girl, leading to a lower selection. But the biggest factor that led to this was probably Covid - and ungrateful American Girl fans.
Let me explain. From the first sale in 1988 to 2019, all American Girl Benefit Sales were held in person. While American Girl fans like myself flew in from out of state for this event, many people were regulars, and everyone had clear expectations on what to expect. Shipping products out of state will take long and is expensive. There are limits on products, and there's less of a selection on Sunday. These rules were pretty much biblical to salesgoers, and it provided an efficient system for unpaid Benefit Sale volunteers to run the sale.
Then 2020 happened.
Obviously, the pandemic led to in-person gatherings being outright cancelled earlier in the pandemic and limited later on. In response to the pandemic, the Madison Children's Museum opted to have a order pickup system for salesgoers in 2020 and shipping to home in 2021 and 2022. However, many American Girl fans not familiar with the format of the sale were frustrated with product supply issues, the limits on ordering, and most notably, the length and cost of shipping to out of state locations. Instead of taking these frustrations out in a healthy matter (like being patient), people on Facebook bashed and harassed the unpaid volunteers about matters out of their control. It got so bad that the Madison Children's Museum had to remind full grown adults to not harass volunteers about logistical issues regarding a nonprofit charity shipping dolls.
Needless to say, I think this led to the downfall of the Benefit Sale. The Museum did have to allocate more and more resources towards the sale in recent years, and there has been less product, but I think how these so-called "fans" treated the unpaid volunteers about issues out of their control put the final nail in the coffin for the sale.
Rest in peace, AGBS. We'll miss you.